It wasn’t an easy decision to move states away from my hometown — my family, my friends, my life. But my husband and I were content to try something new and spread our wings. There were a lot of great things about South Carolina, right? Though we wouldn’t change our decision, within the first six months after moving we discovered the downfall.
Thirty-two years I lived within the same place – Monroe County, PA. Even when I moved out on my own I was always within a 15 minute drive of my parents. I have a massive extended family, with only a handful living more than a 30 minute drive from where I grew up. As you can imagine, that was the hardest part of deciding to move away. Moving away from them.
But now, here I am. Living the life I wanted. Finally able to breathe.
Everything was easy once we decided it was time to go. We sold our house in under 30 days. We were able to arrange for the house we were buying to close just a day after we closed on our house in Pennsylvania. We sent our daughters down to my in-laws (who were already living in South Carolina) so the girls could begin school immediately, with no interruptions. We had our house packed up and in a truck within 24 hours. And we were gone.
It didn’t take nearly as long to get settled in as I expected. I made friends with the neighbors, helped out at school functions, even started working. Within 6 months of moving ten hours away from the lives we’d always known, we were able to settle into a new life. It was a life that we had only dreamed of having when living in the Poconos.
And one phone call changed everything.
“We’re on our way to the cancer doctor. Your father has cancer in his back.”
It was a brick to the face and stomach, all at the same time.
I’m 10 hours away.
I can’t do anything.
I quickly went through countless emotions knowing at that moment, there wasn’t much that could be done. More tests needed to be completed before we knew more. I held it together.
Mom called me on a Friday as we were out celebrating my husband’s new job. They’d just left the doctor. The cancer had spread – to his back, his lungs, his stomach, his bladder, and his lymph nodes – Stage 4. I lost it.
“My dad has lung cancer, and it’s not going to go away this time. This is actually happening again, but this time…”
The thoughts raced through my head, even in the moments I thought I was staring into the abyss.
He had battled lung cancer and won in the past, but evidently it had come back. This time with a vengeance. I cried. A lot. At work, at home, in my car, in bed falling asleep.
At some point, I was able to get it together and attempt to live a normal day-to-day life. Being so far away, I was easily able to put the whole scenario in the back of my mind.
In the six months since we moved, I never once regretted my decision. Everything was finally falling into place.
But now … I hated it.
I loathed my decision. I wanted to jump on the next plane home (and I HATE flying). I wanted to drive through the night. I wanted to leave my kids and just go to my Daddy. Nothing mattered anymore.
I looked at my husband, tears pouring from my eyes, and he knew without me saying a word – I was going home. I didn’t care how everything else worked itself out, I just needed to be home with my Daddy.
Finding out a parent has cancer is devastating. It rocks your world to the core. You feel weak and powerless, but somehow you have to be strong because they’re counting on you.
Like my mother, I was blessed with an ability to deal with emotions, then quickly push them aside to deal with reality. But for three days, I did nothing but cry and hate myself. I give my husband a lot of credit for taking the lead at this time and allowing me to ride the wave of emotions.
I desperately questioned why I had left Pennsylvania. If the doctors found out at my dad’s last MRI in November, I would be there right now with him. We wouldn’t have moved.
I hated myself for moving. Why would I have thought leaving my family was a good idea?
I remember my mom yelling at me, “You made the right decision moving. Don’t you dare do this to yourself. We all understand and you’re better for it.”
As I write those words, my eyes are filling up with tears. I knew she was right, but I’d always been at the hospital when my Daddy was sick. Now, I’m ten hours away.
With all the good that came with our move, the biggest downfall is the miles between my family. We have always been close. And it’s times like these I feel homesick … when all I want to do is drive up that old bumpy road through the woods to the little blue house I grew up in. All I want is to see my father’s infectious smile as he makes fun of me for tripping over the stone fire place for the quadrillionth time. All I want is to watch him outside working on his garden that, until recently, he tended to as if it were the only food our family would ever eat.
As easy as the move itself was, being away now is by far the hardest part.
I can deal with the cancer diagnosis. I can deal with the time my dad has left. I can deal with the weight on my shoulders. But it is extremely difficult to deal with not being there. I’m currently doing all I can from where I am. I know in my heart of hearts moving is what was right, but that doesn’t make it any easier.