“You Can’t Go Home Again”

One of the biggest lessons I have learned in the past five years is that no plan – for life or otherwise – goes exactly the way we want it to.

I suppose the natural place to start would be five years ago. I was about to go into my last year of high school when my family and I found out that my father had cancer. Completely unexpected, a ten-centimeter tumour had engulfed one of his kidneys, meaning that an emergency operation would have to completely clear out the area if we wanted any chance of living through what was diagnosed as stage-four kidney cancer.

Since then, it has been a long, hard battle. There was a year of relief, when we had been told that the operation was successful and to make up for the lack of after-treatment, my Dad would be having CT scans every three months, for as long as we could see into the future. However, a year after that the cancer had come back with a force – same cancer, situating itself on his lungs in small, controllable spots.

To avoid making a novel-long post about the following four-ish years, I’ll just say this: the reappearance of the cancer has meant a never-ending production line of pill treatments, hospital visits, and side effects so bad we couldn’t tell what was worse, the cancer of the drugs? Due to the cancer being unresponsive to radiation or chemotherapy, however, my incredible Dad had very little choice.

This past August it seemed like everything was coming to a dark ending. Finally, the unbelievable growth that we had always expected had happened: twenty-five tumours spread across my fathers abdomen. When Lewis and I heard, we immediately booked flights back to Canada in order to gain some lost time and help both my parents as much as humanly possibly. We were so lucky as to have the support from our family, work, and even my university. I could not believe all the amazing and understanding people we were surrounded with.

This trip home was a tricky one. It definitely wasn’t a vacation, and when we got home we were possibly more exhausted than when we left (barring the jet lag). There were smiles and laughs, but also looks of fear and an enormous amount of tears. I tried as much as possible to keep positive, but I couldn’t help but think about all the events I wanted my Dad here for, and what if he wasn’t? How would I get married if he’s not there to walk me down the aisle? My heart has never been broken like this before.

I feel like I can’t even say that I’m going home when I go back to Canada. Not only does Scotland feel like my true home now – my happiest place where I have been blessed with more love and acceptance than I ever thought existed – but going to Canada this time, I felt undeniably removed. I almost felt dizzy – with the less-than-enjoyable life I had left behind combined with unimaginable sadness – I had realised, once again, that this was no longer my home.

I am, however, very happy to say that this post is not all tears and grieving. As I type this it was just a short four days ago that we found out that the emergency trial my Dad was put on has been working – although the cancer can no longer be minimised, the growth (for now) has stopped. I would love to say that I cried or celebrated when I found this out, but actually, I slept. I slept with more peace and comfort than I have in at least a year. I slept and dreamt about my Dad, very possibly coming to my home for my graduation, meeting the kittens, and seeing the home Lewis and I have created here.

I know this is an uncharacteristically personal post for me, but if you have taken the time to read it and absorb my words, thank you. I struggled with writing this for a long time, but I feel that it is important for me to be honest with all of you who take the time out of your own day to spend time with me.

Have a beautiful day, and tell someone you love them.