I don’t sleep well anymore. That’s just how it is. Anyone who knows me intimately knows that I’m a heavy dreamer. Every night I dream vividly, both good and bad things. I even have dreams when I nap on the couch for 30 minutes. I have dreams about my brother alot, always bad. He’s usually sick, and I’m aware of how it ends but I don’t want to tell him. I just want him to pass and have his suffering end. It’s to the point that if I really think about it I get scared and don’t want to go to sleep. That feeling that I can’t trust my own mind absolutely sucks, and is terrifying sometimes. I hate that I have dreams where I’m waiting for my brother to die, it seems like my mind is punishing me for some reason. I know that isn’t the case, I think it’s just that I have been traumatized and it will take time for me to work through it. I try to be as grounded and realistic with my depression as I can. Some days are harder than others.
Relief. It’s such a difficult feeling to explain. It’s also one of the hardest parts about being there for someone who suffers from cancer for so long. Their death is tragic and painful, but on some levels it is a relief. Their suffering is over. No more visits to the doctor just to get bad news. I would always get a sick feeling in my stomach every time my brother would go in and see his main physician. I couldn’t focus on what I was doing that day until my father would call me with the bad news. That’s not something I miss. No more hospital visits, no more watching him cough up blood while hooked up to every fucking machine the hospital had. No more seeing the look on his face when his doctor’s would come in and give him bad news. Thinking about that absolutely kills me. My heart almost physically hurts thinking about that look. This is the stuff I think about while I lay in bed waiting for the sun to come up. I try to push it out though. I try to remember his infectious laughter or his smile when he pranked someone and was feeling proud of himself. I tell myself won’t ever have to see that awful and sad look on his face again at least. Sometimes I feel so guilty and selfish thinking about relief though. Is this what survivor’s guilt feels like? Am I more relived that his suffering is over, or that mine is? I know that’s not true, my suffering truly began when Joel died. Ask anyone who has lost a loved one to cancer and I can imagine that they would tell a story similar to my own. I hated seeing my brother in his early 30’s so weak and frail, there’s no doubt that he hated it more. The struggle is trying to remember him in his prime, when he was happy and healthy. I just miss him though. Always.