I am standing over a grave and I feel the presence of my loved ones, yet I have no idea of how to talk to them. I can only see apparitions, shapes without distinguishable faces, but the longing to hold them and to shower them with kisses is so strong, that my body is hurting. I literally feel an ache inside of my heart that can only be described as a tormenting anguish that will never be satisfied or quenched. I concentrate as hard as I can, and finally they take form…..I see my 3 year old little daughter, confusion on her face, an inability to understand why her daddy is no where to be seen. She walks to her mommies side and looks up at the wooden coffin, and asks, (as only a 3 year old can do) “why are you crying on that thing mommy? please stop crying mommy” My wife cannot bear the innocent voice any longer, and motions to my mother to take her away. My mother walks to the front of the pews and collapses, unable to find the strength to get any closer to her only son. I am perplexed and confused at this point. Am I dreaming? Is everyone crazy? ” I am standing right here!!!! I shout into the crowd. My son is rising. Funny I didn’t notice him right away. He is slowly walking up to my wife and is tentative and playing with his beautiful blonde hair. I know this behavior all to well. Its his sign that he is uncomfortable and not sure of himself. I call out to him, tell him he is my little warrior and not ever to be afraid, because daddy is right here to protect him. Why did he not look over at me, why is he ignoring me? Maybe I need to talk with him later. I move my eyes through the crowd and see aunts and uncles that should not be here. Why are they here? They live so far away to just come out to one of our local church services. Once again the confusion and inability to get anyone’s attention slips past me. I pass it off as a weird occurrence, everyone must be focused on my wife. I walk up to my wife to comfort her and then I notice my mother still on the ground. I bend over to help her up but before I get to her, my father is right there and assisting her to her feet. I can see that she has no strength and that my father is also crying. Now I am really confused. Has everyone gone crazy? Were in church, this is supposed to be a good time. After all, were praising our creator, our benevolent supplier of love and joy. I say something to my mom and take the shudder in her shoulders as a form of some kind of response, not realizing that is was a sob being emitted from her. I continue up to my wife, who is now holding my son close to her. They are both crying and I can hear my wife saying that everything will be fine and for my son not to worry. Worry about what? As I get closer I see that the casket is open, finally it dawns on me. Were at a funeral!!!! Now I understand why everyone is so sad. I ponder quickly how I could ever forget that I am at a funeral, but the moment passes. Why am I having so much trouble concentrating? I continue up and look into the casket. My mouth goes dry, and my heart starts to pound so hard, I can feel it in my chest wanting to explode. I can hear my heart beat in my ears as if someone is playing a drum inside my head. I am looking down at myself, of what is left of myself I should say. I don’t remember losing weight, but I guess I did. This must be a dream. I will wake up at any moment and all will be well. I turn around and see my wife walking away with my son. I call out to them, but they do not turn around. I ask out loud for someone to stop joking around, this isn’t funny anymore. no one responds to my plea. I see my pastor stepping to the podium and asking all to rise. He says a quick prayer over the congregation and then starts in with his sermon……….
Here lays a man, who loved his family very much. He worked hard to provide and sacrificed a lot to see his wife well taken care of. His one mistake is his inability to discipline himself enough to quit the poison, that ultimately took him from us. Understanding comes over me all at once…….The fear of what I can now understand propels me to the casket once again. I see myself, and I see the weight loss that only cancer with chemo therapy can cause. I hear in the background from my pastor……if only he would have listened to his doctor when the cancer was first found, if only he would have stopped, we could have had him a little longer in our lives, instead of the cancer taking him from us before his time…..I cry out in a voice I do not recognize. I rush to hold my family, to tell them I am right here, but an unseen force stops me from reaching them now. It is as if the understanding now makes my strength in the world that is meant for the living, has not gone from me. I feel warmth on my back and turn around. I see a power light coming from the back of the front of the church so I walk towards it. I turn one last time and see my wife, son and daughter and ask myself one question….was my selfish habit really worth losing all of this? The answer is no, but it came to late because now I am dead and I will never hold any of them ever again……….I wake up and see the forms in the bed, I touch them to make sure that they are really there. My wife wakes up and asks if I am all right. I say of course I am, why do you ask. She half mumbles something and is falling asleep again……I ask her to repeat what she said again…..chills break out all over my body as her words penetrate into my soul…..I thought I heard you say ” please God, give me one more day, one more moment to hold them again, I will do anything to hold them one more time……” I say I must have been dreaming and she falls back to sleep, a sleep that is so easy for her to find. I lay awake, looking at the ceiling and praying a thanks to my God. A thank you for showing me what will be if I don’t stop killing myself with the poison that I continually place in my body. I pray that God will take the desire for me and replace it with a desire to love my family more than myself and here I am today……..100 days and counting.