Dad, August 2006
This is how my dad looked not even a year ago. To look at him in this photo, you wouldn't guess he was battling lung cancer, and losing the battle at that.
The dad I saw this past weekend is a shadow of this man, physically. I could hardly believe I was looking at the same person. Even in just a few short weeks since I last saw him, he has deteriorated considerably.
For four years we have been told that dad "has 6 months to live". For 4 years dad has defied that prognosis. With nothing to lose, he tried every treatment they could offer him in an attempt to prolong his life. Sadly, nothing worked and his cancer continues to grow at an alarming rate. I think I took it for granted each time 6 months passed and dad was still with us. He seemed invincible.
I was in denial.
That was obvious to me for the first time on Father's Day. Reality hit me like a tonne of bricks this weekend. And my heart has been breaking since. So this is what they warned me about. This is what they meant when they said I would 'know' the end was near. It's been sneaking up on me, and I was doing very well ignoring the reality of it all. But now I know I can't ignore it any longer. My dad is dying. I think he knows the end is coming too. Last week I called him and he seemed to be in unusually good spirits. I asked him what he was up to and he said, "Just working on my will.", with a 'song' in his voice.
Our Father's Day visit with him was bittersweet. Throughout the day I felt grateful that I had this one more special day with him. However, all the while I was realizing that this was going to be my last Father's Day to celebrate with my dad. I refused to dwell on that fact and made the best of our visit, but it was hard. Dad was "off", not totally with it and at times unresponsive to conversation. A morphine induced haze, I'm guessing. I just can't imagine...
This has been the longest four years of my life. When my mum died, we were blindsided. One day here, the next day gone. The pain we felt at her loss was incredible, but it was not sustained like the pain of losing my dad is. It's never easy to lose someone you love, but I am starting to think it is "easier" to lose someone suddenly than to watch them slowly and painfully die.
More than hurting for myself and my impending loss, I am hurting for my dad. To watch him suffer like this - I can't put in to words how horrible it feels. I know he is hanging on only for us, when really what he would like to do is lay down and let his body have it's eternal sleep. And I can't help but wish that for him right now.
I feel so helpless.
Dad, Father's Day 2007