The Night is Too Long

_DSC0697 Super Moon 5x5

Super Moon

Copyright 2013 by Blair Atherton

What goes through the mind of someone who is dying slowly over weeks, months, or years of a disease like cancer? We try to imagine what they think about, but we can’t really. We try to find things to talk about to take their mind off of the pain, sorrow, and anxiety, but we can’t be sure they are listening.

What goes through a person’s mind when they know they will not get better, only weaker. What goes through someone’s mind when they realize that their independence is gone and they can never go home again? What goes through a person’s mind when they know they must leave their loved ones behind not knowing if they will ever see them again?

We do our best to make them comfortable, bring them foods they like, and celebrate their lives through old family photos. They may cry in response to old familiar songs that elicit a host of fond memories of the past. We try to tell them that they should be happy and thankful for these things remembered. Still they grieve for days gone by that cannot be relived. They lament the empty days ahead in a life fading away slowly and methodically.

We see their jaw and lips quiver as they reach for a bite of food. Their hands shake as they reach for their glass. We struggle to conceal our sorrow in seeing someone who was so strong and steady, now so tentative and frail. We try to be strong but sometimes after we’ve gone home, the night is too long and we break down. But that doesn’t matter because the night is always too long for them.

We want very much to somehow ease their transition, but we don’t know how. So we go back to be with them the next day and the next in the hope that our presence will somehow make them feel better and less anxious. All we can really do is let them know how much we love them.

What is going through their minds? We try to imagine, but we can’t. The night is too long.

5 comments on “The Night is Too Long

  1. Rob Taylor says:

    What goes through the minds of many of us who have survived is not that complicated. We simply do not accept that the cancer will beat us, unheeding to the source of such declarations. Regardless of how aggressive the cancer is, no matter the pain, or the physical deterioration, we fight. We win. We rebuild. That’s all.


    • Alma says:

      Amen, Rob!!!! This is exactly what I was referring to in my later post. I just now saw yours. If you don’t mind me going into a quick tangential response…………..

      I’ve never myself experienced a serious disease, though I have had very close family members who’ve experienced it. I can only speak from my own personal perspective, and I hope it doesn’t come across as preachy!

      Essentially, I agree with you SO much, because I hold a basic belief in the Law of Attraction – “what you think about, you tend to bring about; like attracts like”, etc. Whenever someone approaches disease with an attitude of “look at that sick person,” their focus on the illness only adds energy to the ILLNESS, not to the wellbeing. Your saying that you “do not accept that the cancer will beat us; we win,” you are focusing on the wellbeing! You are giving your energy to visions of how much joy you’ll be having with your family 10 years from now while cancer-free. Those visualizations, when you truly believe in their ability to come true, WILL be what you attract and physically manifest for yourself!

      This is why I wrote what I wrote below. WHen my “sick” family members wanted to complain/vent about their pain. I listened with genuine compassion, because I could tell that’s what they wanted in that moment. However, I NEVER looked at them as victims, and only thought of them as survivors. 🙂 I know they could feel that positivity, which is why they wanted me to come around, haha. 🙂

      Anyway, I absolutely loved your response, Rob. Thank you!


  2. Margie says:

    I always wondered that also , been through it with my mom, dad, mother in law and sister in law. It’s just heart breaking.


  3. Alma says:

    The only thing I’ve ever done is try to focus intently on joy and wellness (however those concepts resonate for that individual… whatever “Joy” looks like to them and “wellness” looks like to them), and remain a compassionate ear.

    I’ve got to admit that I’d love to develop these abilities MORE in myself.


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