When someone close to us passes away suddenly, the general consensus is that we all wish we could have said goodbye, or that we had more time with that person. Being able to do either one of those things would mean that we would need to know in advance that that person is leaving our world.
Here’s the thing though-I’m currently in that very position, and it doesn’t make it any easier. In fact, I would say that it makes things ten times-no-100 times harder.
You are watching someone you love deeply slowly slip away from you with each passing day. You see them in pain and watch as they waste away. You see them in so much discomfort that you silently wish for their release just so they will no longer be in pain, but at the same time you aren’t. As much as it pains you to see them in agony, it pains you equally to say goodbye. The death is slow, and it takes days-sometimes months for it to complete, and during that time you are filled with anxiety, and dread. Dread for the day that your loved one is finally called home, and their life ceases. Anxiety for the day when you have to face the fact that they are truly gone.
How can you say goodbye to someone that raised you? Created you?
I’m left with all of these thoughts continuously streaming through my head. In August my father was given a year to live. This past Monday he was given 6-8 weeks.
The cancer was far more aggressive than they could have anticipated. The cancer in his liver has significantly grown, and has spread to the bones in his hip and thigh; making it difficult for him to walk. His frequent severe headaches have lead them to believe that it is now in his brain.
I literally fell to my knees, wrapping my arms around his torso as he sat motionless in that exam room. I sobbed into his grey champion sweatshirt as he comforted me, stroking the back of my head.
And now, now I lay in my darkened bedroom sobbing into my pillow as I write this. Sobbing into my pillow like I have done every night since Monday, silently praying for a miracle.
But no miracle came. My father returned home that day. As he was strangely calm in the doctors office, he was no longer when we arrived home. His anger taking over, first being angry at receiving a floral arrangement, then angry when learning that there were no hot dogs in the freezer even though he hasn’t had one in months. Nobody knew what to say. His impending death an elephant in the room.
The next day when I arrived to pick him up for radiation, he acted as everything were normal. He greeted me and asked me “what was new”. I held back tears as I looked at him. My lip trembling as I mumbled “same old same old”. Suddenly I was looking at a dead man. I didn’t want to see him differently, but I did. I saw my dad, dying. I wondered how I washing to get through it. I wondered how fast he would decline, if he would make to Christmas, how the family would handle it. I worried about the ridiculous things like the care for his home, finances, and how my mom would react to his absence. Every day that I went to bed and woke up, was another day closer to the inevitable.. And it ate me up inside.