I Can’t Go Home Again, And That’s OK

They say you can’t go home again.

I always thought that saying was silly. Who said that? What does it mean? And what the heck is stopping you?

I guess money, family, distance and other reasons could play a part in decided whether to head back to your native land. Until recently, the farthest I’ve been from home was three hours. At best, I was 20 miles away and could go back to my farm any day.

This weekend I made the long trip back to Belfield, N.D., and while I have never been more excited to head back west, I’ve never felt more anxious due to the trip home. And, no, it’s not because I’ll drive almost 400 miles by myself or I’ll have to dodge oil trucks and deer.

It’s because I don’t have that feeling that I am going home.

My mother passed away in January after a five-year battle with breast cancer. Yes, I know plenty of people die of cancer, almost everyone knows someone with the horrible disease. So I’m not a special case.

But it didn’t make it any easier to watch. She beat it once before, but the second time it came back, I knew it was very likely she might not survive.

I tried to not give myself false hope. But as much as I tried to prepare myself for reality, I wasn’t ready for how it would affect her or my family.

She spent time in the hospital, where we found out the best we could do was make her comfortable. She was able to come home, where she passed away with my father waiting at her side.

There were times when she was happy and talkative, but I saw someone I loved suffering, and it hurt so much I had to leave, find somewhere else to be but there.

But one of the worst parts was watching my dad, my brother and the rest of the family gather in the hospital or at my home, trying to pretend that everything was OK.

We all knew it wasn’t. I could see how everything changed. My dad wasn’t teasing us or making stupid jokes, my brother wasn’t laughing, and I as much as I tried, I couldn’t figure out how to make anything feel normal.

In short, I realized nothing would ever be the same. We weren’t the family we were before. The world we knew was shattered into a million pieces, like a mirror that could never be repaired.

From the time of the funeral, going to my house in the country didn’t feel like going home. It felt different.

Don’t get me wrong: I love spending time on the farm. I love going out to see the kittens, Buddy the farm dog, the cattle and the horses.

But when I walk into that house, it feels a little empty. I know what’s missing, and it’s something I’ll never get back. And it burns so much that I don’t ever want to go back.

But I can’t just focus on that. I know that I have to be strong for others and move on.

I try to stay positive. I still have the rest of my family, and the reason I am so happy to go back is because I know my friends will be waiting. They helped me so much, and with my dad and brother, they are the best family I have.

I’ve been lucky to have the support I have had. It’s been painful, and some days are harder than others. But I’m thankful I have a great job, great co-workers and wonderful friends and family who will make sure I get through this. It won’t be easy, and the pain won’t completely disappear, but I can get through it. Hopefully, my story will show others it does get better with time as long as they have someone who is there for them.

I guess I finally know what that silly saying means. You truly can’t go home, at least not to the home you once knew.

But it doesn’t mean you can’t make a new one. And with my family and friends, I intend to do just that.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. If you can, make a donation to aid breast cancer research, participate in a fundraiser or event to bring awareness, or simply show someone you know who has breast cancer that they are not alone. It’s amazing what support and a we-can-beat-this attitude does.

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