Letters to Daddy; The Countdown Begins
Coping with grief, loss, love, and acceptance.
Today starts the final 13 days of my father's life. He spent 10 of those days in the hospital and the last 3 days in a hospice facility. This is my letter to him about day one.
December 10, 2016
Last night I was thinking about this day and today I woke up numb. Emotions are funny like that; sad one minute and blah the next. Today will always be the start of the countdown because it all started with a phone call. You called me this evening and told me you weren’t feeling well; you hadn’t been feeling well for a while. The radiation they did for your back pain didn’t help, you were dropping weight faster, and we knew already that the cancer had spread. I have a secret to tell you, I knew before your doctor told us that your cancer had spread. Remember the MyChart app I downloaded to my phone? After your CT scan last month, I kept checking the app regularly until the results were posted. I knew the cancer had spread to your other lung and liver, but I didn’t know that was the final signature on your death sentence.
You told me that you didn’t feel well and I asked you if you wanted to go to the hospital, you said yes and then told me that you thought that you needed a nurse. We had had that discussion back in October but back then you were great. You told me that you were having trouble getting in and out of the shower and I promised we would talk to the doctor when we got to the hospital. I picked you up and you smiled, but you didn’t look well. I knew you weren’t taking care of yourself and thought that having a nurse come to you occasionally wouldn’t provide you the care that you needed. We discussed you going into a rehab facility so that you could have around the clock care. They would make sure that you got your medicines and make sure that you eat- my biggest concern because I knew you weren't eating like you should, I had to throw away a completely full container of beef stew I made you. That was the major problem; you had stopped eating and you weren’t drinking enough fluids. As usual when we got to the ER they wanted to take your blood but your veins didn’t have enough hydration, so they stuck you once, twice, three times until they could get a vein that didn’t collapse and they gave you fluids. You hated them always having to stick you but you stayed dehydrated. We waited, it was the ER and we were used to that, you finally had enough fluid in your veins for them to draw a little blood and we waited again. You slept majority of the time that we were there and I watched you. Your arms had black spots on them from the chemo and they looked simply like skin covering bone. The ER doctor was nice and when we talked to him; expressing your desire to have a nurse and my concerns that you needed around the clock care. Our final verdict was you going into a rehab facility and the doctor gave us our options. Your diagnosis was Pneumonia, again, and he admitted you into the hospital.
They put you in a temporary room that night, remember. It was a transitional room because they didn’t have a room ready for you. It was a nice little room; the chair I slept in was a folding chair and you offered to share your bed with me. Wrestling was on that night, one of your favorite shows, and I left it playing until it went off then found a different channel to watch until I got sleepy. We stayed that whole night in the transition room, I was uncomfortable but I wasn’t leaving you. You flirted with the nurses and they smiled calling you sweet. You only seemed to be comfortable eating applesauce and they made sure that whenever you were awake and wanted some, you got it. It was funny that even though majority of our roles had reversed, you would offer me your food. Yeah, you offered me your applesauce. Remember how I would make the plane noises when you were too tired to feed yourself? We would laugh about it. My heart ached every time I saw that side of you. I would feed you your applesauce and give you your juice, it hurt to know that you didn’t have the strength to feed yourself.
You see daddy, I was dying with you. All those harsh years of living with your drinking had turned me bitter towards you. I was so angry growing up with you and that anger ran deep. You didn’t know it but I once said “if you died, I probably wouldn’t cry” I have eaten those words over and over. I have cried so many times. 5 months daddy, you gave me 5 months of yourself sober. You gave me the daddy I wanted growing up. I learned a lot about you in those months, you revealed your true self to me and I fell in love with my daddy again. I didn’t want that time to go away; I didn’t want it to end because there was so much more I wanted to know. I bottled my emotions and when it was suggested to me that I should share them with you, I said no because they didn’t matter. They still don’t, but maybe I should have talked to you about them. Guilt eats me up inside for having those kinds of feelings. You were dealing with your own demons when I was growing up. Even though I didn’t tell you my feelings I’m sure you had some idea that our relationship had been strained. I neglected you as an adult, many times I ignored your phone calls and I must live with that for the rest of my life. I hope that you forgive me for all the times I ignored you, the times I stayed angry, and all the missed opportunities that I could have had with you. I would give anything to have you back right now because the pain of living without you is hard. I want to be selfish; I want you to call me, I miss your voice, I miss your jokes, and I miss your smile. I want you to be here so I don’t have to write these letters, I want to talk to you. I want you to see. I want to have breakfast with you again. I don’t want to look at an urn, I want to see your face. Oh, I forgot to mention, I became a mom to two cats back in May of this year, do they count as grandkids for now?
I miss you so much