The Parents Who Show Up

I wouldn’t begin to know what it is like to have the parents who show up for cancer. Let me just repent on the language that I am about to use in this blog post because it is literally going to get real here in just a minute.  I haven’t mentioned my parents much, if at all, during my cancer journey for one very good reason.  They never showed up for cancer.  They showed up for my hysterectomy because they invited a pastor they never told me about, to which I didn’t know personally, so they could be the “good Christian parents.”  You know what that is, a big hard line of bull shit.

My parents could not show up to a single chemo session nor a weekend from the first of February to the end of May during the hardest months of my entire life.  My husband’s Dad and Step-Mother showed up to take care of the girls during our hard weekends.  My husband’s Mom and Step-Father who live out of state saw me more than my own parents did who lived in-state.   My sister showed up to every single chemo session of mine and each hospital stay, but my parents were no where to be seen.  They called by phone from 1.5 hours away, but just couldn’t show up in person.  What the actual HELL?!

Here’s the thing… to be godly parents in my definition is that you show up for life, for the good, the bad, and the ugly.  You don’t just show up for show, to display that you are holier than thou.  If that is your agenda, don’t show up.  

Many of you have picked up on the fact I have never spoken about my parents during my cancer journey.  They really weren’t a part of it.  I know that, my husband knows that, my sister knows that, and my kids know that.  When my almost 8 year old and my 6 year old know that one set of grandparents never showed up, that tells me something.  I shouldn’t be surprised.  It’s not like they showed up for a single grandparent event at school for the girls, not a basketball game, nor a single soccer game.  My parents just aren’t those parents.

I long for them to be those parents.  To show up.  Be present.  To have my girls know them rather than know that they are the ones who send cards with money for birthdays and holidays.  That just isn’t them.

The only time they saw me without hair was after chemo when I drove to them to have the father’s day memory that I wanted on a boat with my Dad and sister.  Today I realized in a hard truth that it was the memory that I wanted, not my Dad or my Mother.  I am sure he cherishes it, or at least I can only hope that he does.  I know I will.  It’ll likely be one of the last acts I give my parents.

I understand who they are.  I still love my parents.  It was just a startling realization to get to the end of chemo all to realize that they had never seen me without hair.  They missed one of my hardest seasons.  They missed the season where I learned to love myself when I didn’t always like the reflection looking back at me.  

Cancer has taught me to live for the now, it’s taught me who will show up when I need them the most, it’s taught me to be truer to myself than anything else in life has ever taught me.  My time is precious and I deserve to spend that time with those who will put in as much effort as I am willing to put in.

There was an event to the hard truth of my realization that just made me realize all of the other things I have dismissed, suppressed, and pushed aside.  Today was real.  Writing is my release.  Three glass of cabernet and you could call this my liquid courage.  This is my truth, my reality.

I am putting this on a page, not for attention, not to paint my parents as awful people, but to show that sometimes people who you deeply love will not be there for you during your cancer journey.  Life moves on, you pick up those pieces, and you write a new chapter.

Today, I write a new chapter.  You either show up in my life or that life moves on without you.  I no longer need to be crushed, angry, confused, or question why.  Today is the beginning of a new chapter.  Those who love me and my family will decide if they are worth the ink or not.

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