One Day at a Time: A Personal Update

Sometimes, it’s a phone call. One conversation that turns a beautiful day into a nightmare. You might know what I mean (though I hope to goodness you don’t): a phone call that cuts off the air. Words that land on your heart like stones. A message that leaves you without answers, and sometimes, without hope.

I got one last week. Even though a part of me knew it might come, it shook me like an earthquake. It’s a few days later and I still feel the aftershocks.

I want to put this bluntly, to write it quickly and directly so I can spit these words out and walk away from them: someone I love has terminal cancer. My dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in May 2013, went through chemo and radiation, then a successful Whipple operation. He had a difficult recovery but had turned a corner in the past couple months, feeling stronger and more positive about the future…until it came back.

This news comes with two competing desires.

The first: to guard the most painful, intimate feelings I have experienced. To deny them power by refusing to voice them. To turn inward, putting the rest of life on the back burner. To shut down.

The second: to seek community more than ever. To share some of what we’re going through, not to bring others into our pain but to offer understanding to even one person reading who might be going through something similar. To stoke the hearth of normalcy by continuing with life as usual, as best I know how.

My first priority remains, as ever, my relationships–starting with family. There are no words to express my gratitude that my job not only allows but encourages me to go home and spend time with these people who laid the foundation of my life. Time with my parents and my brother, and the friends I grew up with in Virginia, is the best cure I know for heartsickness.

My second priority is self-care. For all my good intentions, it’s something I often preach without practicing, but I know that I need it now more than ever. I found immediate relief in letting some responsibilities go in order to make space for more of it: taking slow walks, writing in a journal and cooking comfort food. Calling Jim to come over and give me hugs, losing myself in the frivolous details of a low-key 25th birthday party. Cooing over puppy videos, reading fiction. Tweeting like a fool as usual.

While I want to keep some semblance of routine, I know the coming weeks and months will bring great change. I can’t quite envision what life would look like without blogging…Jaybird has been my creative outlet, my community, my hobby and even my (very small) business for the past 14 months. Blogging has been part of my life on and off since middle school.

But I imagine that, for now, my life will be enriched by letting go.

I’ll still write, but I won’t follow a schedule or post a set amount of times every week…and I might disappear for awhile. I’ll still read your posts, my inspiring blogger friends, but I may not comment as often. I’ll still share silly and happy things, but I won’t promise every post will be full of sunshine.

I’ll be taking it one day at a time. Sometimes, that’s all there is to do.

Love,

Alicia

  • http://www.smileandwrite.com Shannon

    I am so sorry about your dad. I am new to your blog but appreciate your candidness and yes I know exactly the feeling you write about. It knocks the wind out of you. 2.3 years ago my brother was killed in a car accident and that phone call knocked my feet from under me. Take care of yourself and cherish the moments… Hugs.

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      Shannon, I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. Thanks for visiting and for your supportive words.

  • http://www.theladyokieblog.com/ Amanda

    I am so sorry to hear this. I lost my grandma to pancreatic cancer three years ago. I will be praying for your dad and your family and you!

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      I’m so sorry for your loss Amanda. I had heard almost nothing about pc (except Steve Jobs) and now it seems that so many people I know have been touched by it. Thank you for your prayers!

  • http://musicalpoem.me Manda | musicalpoem

    You need to do what is best for you, Alicia. I lost my dad to pancreatic cancer when I was a child so I know how hard this all is. I’m keeping you and your family in my thoughts.

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      I’m so sorry to hear that Manda. It is a dreadful disease–makes me furious how little survival rates have increased. Thanks for your kind thoughts.

  • Sarah Von Bargen

    <3 <3 <3

  • Kourtney Thomas

    Alicia, so sorry to hear about your dad. Sending love and prayers.

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      Thank you Kourtney.

  • http://www.routebliss.com/ Christina McCall

    I hate to hear this, especially after watching a friend lose her dad to pancreatic cancer … sending lots of prayers and thoughts to you and your family.

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      Thank you Christina. We appreciate all those good vibes.

  • http://www.brookseditorial.com/ Ashley Brooks

    So sorry you and your family are going through this! Prayers are headed your way.

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      Thank you so much Ashley.

  • http://modiggity.com/ Mo

    Thank you for your honesty and for being vulnerable in this space: it isn’t an easy thing to do, and you’re brave for facing it. Not to mention, you’re incredibly intuitive about recognizing your inner struggles about what to do now. I’m sending all the happy and hopeful thoughts I have to you. <3 <3

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      Thank you Mo! (PS I am very behind on email but I owe you a reply there too.) I’m finding peace while I can.

  • Katherine Lacabe

    All our prayers are going to you, your family, and especially your dad. We are all here for you in any way that you need us to be.

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      Thank you for your support, Katherine. At first I was unsure about posting this but I am floored by the kind response.

  • http://betweendreamstheblog.blogspot.com/ Allie @ Between Dreams

    I can’t begin to imagine what you’re going through, Alicia. Sending my love + prayers to you and your family xo

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      Thank you so much Allie.

  • http://www.betsytransatlantically.blogspot.com/ Betsy Transatlantically

    Oh Alicia, I am so sorry – sending you and your family all the love in the world. If you/they need anything in VA, just yell.

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      Thanks Betsy. I’ll be home for a few weeks so if I’m headed across the river perhaps we can take a break for a coffee!

  • http://www.alwaysashten.com/ Ashten@alwaysashten

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I’m so sorry for this news.

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      Thank you Ashten.

  • http://www.wheremagiclivesblog.com Amy Jo Pendergrass

    So sorry to hear of this news, Alicia. You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers during this challenging time.

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      Thank you so much. We appreciate it!

  • http://longdrivejourney.com Amy @ Long Drive Journey

    Alicia, I am so, so sorry. My mom was diagnosed with colorectal cancer a few years ago, and I understand how difficult this time is, especially when you are far away from your family. Take the time that you need to care for yourself. You are in my prayers.

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      Amy, I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been through this too. I appreciate your prayers. Hopefully once I’m back in the city I can meet up to welcome you here!

  • http://allyssabarnes.com/ Allyssa

    Alicia, I’m so sorry to hear this. I lost my dad to cancer 2 years ago so I know how difficult it is to go through this. I’ll keep you and your family in my thoughts.

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      Allyssa, I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been through this too. I frequently find myself at a loss for words. Thanks for your kind thoughts.

  • http://www.inkwellsandimages.com/ Abbigail Kriebs

    Take the time you need, Alicia, so that when this part of life has passed, you cannot say “I wish I had taken more.” Thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family.

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      Yes, yes to that. I’m reminding myself of that when I feel uncertain or guilty about leaving life in Chicago. Home is the best place to be whenever I can.

  • http://www.jarfullofstars.com/ Lisa

    I´m so sorry Alicia, I can´t imagine what you may be going through. Sending good thoughts to you and your family.

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      Thank you Lisa, we appreciate them!

  • http://www.thistooisfoundhere.blogspot.com/ Kari Holtkamp

    I’m so sorry, Alicia. I don’t know what else to say except I’ll be thinking of you and your family and praying for you guys. I’m glad you get to go home and be with your family.

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      Thanks so much Kari. I’m glad too!

  • http://belongwithwildflowers.com/ Caitlin

    I sent you an email this morning, but once again – so, so sorry to hear your family is going through this. Stay strong + do whatever you need to to get through this time. One of the best pieces of advice I ever heard when I was going through a hard grief process was this: Allow yourself to feel whatever you want. If you’re angry, scream. If you’re sad, cry. If you’re happy, remember that’s okay too. Whatever you need to get through this, that’s exactly what is the right plan. Lots of prayers!

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      Thank you Caitlin! Reminding myself that all the feelings are ok, not something to judge or block out, is definitely important.

  • http://www.erikafromamerica.com/ Erika

    Oh man, girl! As someone who is going through some similar or at least related emotions, my heart goes out to you. I’m so sorry. I totally get that wanting to keep it to yourself feeling but also to share it to create community for yourself and for others. Lots of hugs, thoughts, prayers to you.

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      I’m so sorry that you’re going through this too. Blergh, I guess we can commiserate on how challenging it can be. Sending good thoughts your way too my dear.

  • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

    Alicia I am so so sorry. I can’t imagine how awful what you’re going through right now is, but I hope you know I’m thinking of you

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      Thank you so much Kiersten.

  • http://www.thehungrygoat.net Ktcyril

    You’re in my thoughts. Sending you the biggest virtual hug. xxoox.

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      Thank you so much. I’m taking all the hugs (virtual or not) I can get!

  • http://www.sunshine2thesquareinch.blogspot.com/ Beka Johnson

    I admire you for being so honest and transparent. I’m not going to tell you I’ve been there because I haven’t.

    I’ll be praying for you & I’ll add your Dad and your family on my ‘Friday Friend’ prayer day.

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      Thank you so much Beka, I really appreciate that.

  • http://www.wittytitlehere.com/ Cassie

    Oh, Alicia. I’m so sorry to hear this. Taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do right now. Be with your family. Go through all the emotions. And know we’re all thinking about you. Keeping you, your dad and the rest of your family in my thoughts. <3

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      Thank you Cassie. Feeling all the feelings, check! But seriously, all of the positive thoughts and vibes are hugely appreciated.

  • http://cleartheway.net/ Kate Amunrud

    I am feeling love for you and your family and I’m going to send you an email.

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      Thanks so much Kate. I’m getting caught up but I really appreciate your support and kind words.

  • http://shaktidove.blogspot.com/ Shakti Scircle

    I can’t even imagine. You’ll be in my thoughts!

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      Thank you Shakti.

  • http://agirlandhertravels.com/ Polly

    I’m so sorry to hear that. I’ll be sending all of you as many positive thoughts as I can.

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      Thank you Polly. All your positive thoughts are appreciated!

  • http://www.modernnotebook.com/ Erin O’Brien

    I’m so sorry to hear this. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      Thank you Erin. I really appreciate your support.

  • http://www.paperswallowevents.com/blog Stacia

    Take the time you need. I’ll be praying for your family. You are supported. xoxo

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      Thank you Stacia. I am bowled over by all the kind words, prayers and love. Thankful that I overcame uncertainty and decided to share. I knew the blogging community was great, but I don’t think I fully understood just HOW great!

  • http://sophieinclogs.com Sophie

    Alicia I’m so sorry for you and your family. Take care of yourself <3 I don't comment often but wanted to tell you you'll be in my thoughts. xx

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      Thank you Sophie! I really appreciate the support (despite my much-delayed response time!).

  • http://www.foodboozeandbaggage.com/ Food Booze & Baggage

    Alicia, so sorry for your news! Positive thoughts to you and your family! Glad you know you have to take care of yourself too.

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      Thanks so much Mariah. I am glad to be home!

  • thesimplylivingblog

    Alicia I’m so sorry to hear the news! We are sending over as many positive thoughts as we can and keeping you in our thoughts and prayers! Just know that you are a part of such an amazing community of positive people and we are all here for you!

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      Thank you both and yes I completely agree–I have been overwhelmed (in a good way) by the amazing support from everyone in the blogging community.

  • http://www.wanderlyn.com/ Eternally WanderLyn

    Alicia, I’m so sorry to hear this news. While I cannot and will not pretend to fully comprehend the depth of your emotions as we are each unique in our experiences, I can relate to the feeling of heartbreak and shock when your loved ones are diagnosed with cancer. Taking care of your loved ones and yourself definitely takes priority right now. You and your family will be in my thoughts. And, even though we don’t know each other well, I’m always here if you need someone to listen.

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      Thank you Lynsey. It’s a shame that this is a feeling that so many of us know, even though our experiences are different. I really appreciate your support.

  • http://www.gemmasands.co.uk/blog Gemma Sands

    I’m so sorry to hear this – sending you and your family positive energy and prayers! x

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      Thank you Gemma. We appreciate it!

  • http://jessicalawlor.com/ Jessica Lawlor

    So sorry to hear about this, Alicia. Sending all my positive thoughts and prayers your way <3 I really admire your attitude and outlook in this post. You are amazing!

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      Thank you Jess! I really appreciate that.

  • Brynn

    I’m so sorry to hear this. Wishing you and your family strength, and peace.

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      Thank you, Brynn.

  • http://kcsaling.com/ KC Saling

    So very sorry to hear. Wishing you strength during this difficult time.

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      Thank you KC.

  • http://treasuretromp.com/ Nicole @ Treasure Tromp

    sending you so much love, my friend.

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      I’m so sorry that you have been through this too. I really appreciate your support and kind thoughts.

  • http://www.pinkoclockblog.com/ Megan @ Pink O’Clock

    So, so sorry to hear this. Sending you all my warmest, lovingest thoughts. xox

    • http://jaybirdblog.com/ Alicia | Jaybird Blog

      Thank you Megan. (Just read your Rambo post–puppy cuddles are a good cheer-up method, too!)

  • anne @ wit wisdom and food

    Oh my heart is heavy for you. While you go through this I will be thinking of you, and taking this time to catch up on your sweet blog. Best Wishes.

  • Holly

    Sending you and your family so many hugs! We’ll all be here when you need us. xo

  • Pingback: I Took a Blog Break and It Was Awesome. - Jaybird