My father had been battling cancer for the past several months. He was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer back in the spring. Even though the doctors knew that they couldn’t cure it or perform surgery, they believed that they could hold the disease at bay. A little less than two weeks ago, I got a call that he was back in the hospital. They had found that the treatment had failed, and the cancer had spread. His request was that my sister and I come home.
We made it there just in time to see him while his mind was still lucid. Seeing him so very ill was a terrible experience. To witness the strongest person you’ve ever known be decimated by this horrible disease leaves a permanent mark. Seeing the smile on his face when we arrived however, makes every awful part of what transpired fade into the background. Knowing that he was happy because we made it there to see him is something that I will remember…always. The reality of his being gone is still sinking in as he has just passed on Monday. My mother has been gone for over 13 years and now dad is too. The hole left behind where they once were feels bigger than the Grand Canyon.
It is going to take a while to recover from the long trip home, both physically and emotionally. These days, I’m being gentle with myself by resting as much as I need to and allowing myself to retreat or reach out as I feel capable. The past week has held lessons, pain, healing, love, and incredible loss. When I’ve had more time to heal, I’m sure that I’ll be writing more about all of that. For now, I’m just going to take things one step at a time. As much as I miss my dad, I am thankful that he is no longer in pain. I’ll always remember his snow white hair bouncing down through the field on the tractor, and the silly practical jokes that we used to play on one another.
I want to thank the people who have been and continue to be so loving and supportive. I have discovered through this process who my real friends are…whether related to me or not. First and foremost, I am so very thankful to my dear sister who has been with me every step of the way, not just now but throughout my entire life. There is another family member whose kindness and love I will hold close to my heart always…thank you auntie, for being a safe port in one of the biggest storms of my life. The time spent with you and your sons were the greatest medicine imaginable. There are several others to whom I extend my love and appreciation…the ones who allow me to handle this as I need to, without judgement…the ones who permit me time and space, yet check in on me in quiet ways to let me know that I am not alone…you know who you are.