Letters to Daddy; My Sorrow Continues
Coping with grief, loss, love, and acceptance
December 11, 2016
I cried last night and this morning for you. Supposedly crying is good for you, but all it does it tire me out and make me sadder. Did you know that there are stages to death? The body knows it’s dying and prepares itself. I didn’t know you were dying when you went into the hospital, I didn’t even know that you were dying back in November but your body did.
The weekend before you went into the hospice facility, they had a hospice care nurse come in. She was nice, but I wasn’t willing to accept what she was politely trying to tell me. She gave me a pamphlet that explained the stages of death, I used to have it along with everything else I was given during those last days. You were exhibiting several of the signs and I wasn’t trying to accept it. You weren’t dying in my eyes. Ok, truthfully you were dying right before my eyes. Once you got into the hospital room, you stayed in bed unless you had to use the bathroom. Since I was staying in the room with you I took care of you majority of the time, not the nurses. Your doctors wanted you to get up and walk around, but you always said your back hurt too bad and that you would do it later. Later never came. You slept instead.
Over those 13 days I watched you waste away and I was helpless to do anything about it. I think the doctors knew what was happening, it’s funny they could’ve told me. On the surface, I was blind and I relished in that blindness, but deep down I knew. Way back in the depths of my brain I knew what was happening. I could count your ribs from the front or back of your body. There was no more muscle on you just skin and bones. You were fragile and hurt so bad. In the end, I could lift you up in my arms. The man that could lift me and Momma up without breaking a sweat could now barely lift his arm to feed himself. Yeah, I knew but didn’t want to believe it. I was so hopeful because on the 18th of this month, we were supposed to learn about the new course of treatment since the cancer had spread. It was on November 27 or 28 that your Oncologist told me what I already knew. You were semi sleep, or pretending, when he came in. He told me that your initial tumor had shrunk by half, YAY, but that the cancer had spread to your right lung and liver. He said that the liver didn’t do well with cancer and since you were going to be getting radiation on your back again starting at the beginning of December, he was stopping your chemo. He said that we would discuss the course of action after you finished radiation. He wanted you to eat more because you had lost the weight that you had gained and we made a joke about offering to donate our excess fat to you. He was such a nice man. I gave him a personal Thank You card after you passed. He has one of the hardest jobs in the world.
Remember the prune juice? Your digestive problems were one of the signs of dying; your organs were shutting down. Your lack of eating was another and so was all the sleeping you were doing. They told me that your lack was eating was your body’s way of fighting the cancer. They said that the cancer was eating up all your energy and what was food? Energy, so your body stopped eating to try and slow the cancer down. The cancer ate you from the inside out. Initially, they told us that they wouldn’t be able to operate on the tumor in your lung because of where it was located, your cancer knew what it was doing. It was the villain and it played the role very well.
You never wanted to get out of bed, not even to get into a wheelchair and be pushed around the hospital. Aside from going to the bathroom, the only time I could get you out the bed was to give you a bath. It broke my heart every time I saw what you looked like underneath your clothes. The baths always made you feel better though. After I got your linens changed and you back in a position that was sort of comfortable, you looked more like yourself. I watched you sleep all the time. Sometimes your breathing was so shallow that I would stop my own breathing and focus on your chest to see if it was moving. I was always afraid that one day it would move. Through it all, you were always my daddy. You worried more about me eating than yourself. You always offered me the portions of your meals that you didn’t want and I would assure you that I was going to eat or that I was fine. You worried about whether I was comfortable or not in the recliner. When you had visitors, I saw the looks on their faces, it got to the point that I had to warn them ahead of time. You weren’t yourself. It was hard for anyone to digest that the man who got up at sunrise and walked all over town until sundown could barely hold his eyes open for more than a few minutes at a time. When you were awake, you were always alert and joked around with anyone in the room. Except me, we mostly argued like an old married couple because I told the doctors everything that was going on with you. You kept calling me “a rat” and I responded by saying I was fine with that, if it helped to get you better.
The last 5 months of your life are some of the fondest memories I have of you. I wish that that was how our life could have always been. I can see why my mom fell in love with you and why everyone that knew you always had something nice to say. Momma always told me stories of your “sandlot” football days, how great you were, that your team was always undefeated, and how even though I was an infant she and I never missed a game. She said I was your team’s unofficial mascot, your little cheerleader. Daddy I was your little cheerleader again and I’m so sorry that this go around we lost. Until next time.
I miss you.