Thursday, June 15, 2017

Grief on the Frontier

I had a history professor once ask, "What exactly is the frontier?"

Our class came up with several muddled and vague definitions. But in the end our professor gave us this: the frontier is that thin strip of land running between civilization and wilderness. It is a buffer between what is established and what is yet unknown.

For almost three years I have lived on my own frontier of confusion, anger, exhaustion and grief, a narrow land of unlivable territory spanning between life and death.

The minute I learned Carey’s cancer had spread, I stepped away from all that I knew and out onto this barren frontier, with nothing but wilderness as far as the mind could see. Forced here by the chance ricochet of cancer’s bullet.

And here I have lived on that unrelenting edge with my eye fixed on my family, unable to go back to what I knew, petrified of staying for what it meant. There were days on the frontier where I watched my son cross a brutal terrain of chemo treatments and radiation, braving his way with dignity, calm, and even humor. And then, finally, when all hope of survival here had failed, I watched him travel on without me, further into the wilderness. Into the unknown.

My time on the frontier territory is drawing to a close. I can’t stay here. There’s no point. I need to return to my loved ones, to my new home, to all that is still familiar.  But there will be days when I look back over my shoulder to catch one more glimpse of Carey. To see if, by chance, he passed that way again, even if for a second.