Tragedy and the Power of Family

James - verona, New York
Entered on March 27, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family, setbacks
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I think you can accomplish a lot in life, but I believe none of it matters if you don’t have your family to support you. It doesn’t matter if times are good or bad, you always need the love and support of your friends and family. Sometimes friends and their families can be just as close to you as your real family. This has become very clear to me because of my dad’s fight with cancer and my girlfriend’s recent car accident.

Since I was young I have had a big and blended family. My parents were divorced when I was a baby, and both remarried years later. My father married my step-mom Deby, who had two children of her own. My father always considered them his sons, never his step-sons, and I have always considered them my brothers. My mother remarried too; my step-father Paul, she and Paul for the last few years they have lived in Florida. Though my mom isn’t able to be here physically, she is always here for me emotionally to help in any way possible. If I ever needed her here, she would fly here the second I asked.

When my dad was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, I was devastated. This strong-willed, family-loving man, who was the rock of the family, the man everyone could turn to for anything, was now fighting cancer. The news of his cancer numbed my thoughts, and soon brought chilling tears to my eyes, filled with pain and question. Why my father? How did this happen? What are we going to do? There were no precise answers to these brain-numbing questions, just the comfort of my step-mom and the rest of my family. My dad was the one dealing with this disease, yet he was the strongest one in the family.

For months my father endures chemotherapy and radiation treatments to try and shrink the tumor. The pain, sickness, and constant challenges the treatments caused were unbelievable. Throughout his battle family members were always around to help with anything we needed. My grandparents, aunts, uncles, nephews, and nieces spent as much time with my dad, Deby, my brothers and I as possible. We all got together for Thanksgiving and Christmas like usual, and made the most out of the time we had.

When the tumor shrunk enough, the doctors performed surgery, which meant that my dad had seven inches of his esophagus removed, too. The surgery was difficult and risky, but successful, and life was almost back to normal for a while.

Soon after his surgery, I started dating my girlfriend Jamie, who had been a friend since first grade. We were even each others first kiss. Everything was slowly returning to normal, but the feeling of comfort would be short lived.

My father’s cancer was back, and had metastasized to his liver and to other parts of his body. He tried chemotherapy and radiation again, but this time they did not help. He was eventually admitted to the hospital. I would soon make one of my last trips to see him there.

The next morning my father took his last breath with the family by his side. All of our love and prayers helped sooth his final hours. Family were together for the next few weeks to help ease each other’s pain and sadness. Somebody always stayed at my dad’s house so Deby was never alone. Everybody made sure Deby, my brothers and I had something to eat or anything else we might need. Jamie and her family were also there to help my family, and most of all to help me.

A short time after my dad’s death, Jamie was involved in a car accident. She has been hospitalized and in a coma for more than six weeks. She was recently transferred to a neurological rehab center where she is working everyday to recover from her injuries. This has brought both of our families closer together than I ever would have thought possible. Everyone has been there for Jamie’s parents with food, money, a ride, or just the comfort of company. I know that with Jamie’s strength and all the love of our families, she will make a full recovery, and we will all continue to be close.

The last year and a half of my life has been filled with tragedy and sadness. But, it has also been filled with more love and affection than I could ever imagine. The incredible power of love and family are the things that have kept me centered and balanced. Without the support of family and friends, I would not have had the strength to fight through the pain and struggles and continue to pursue my goals in life.