I haven’t wanted to write this update. Or, to be more accurate, I’ve been procrastinating and avoiding it.
But if I don’t write this, I don’t think I would ever write anything on this site again… because this needs to happen first in order to “clear the air” in my heart and in my head.
I’ve decided that I’m still a writer, so I need to write!
My Dad died at the end of November.
His obituary: http://www.geraldasmith.ca/memsol.cgi?user_id=1465873
We all knew it was coming, right? He had lived with cancer for almost 14 years… in his bones for 3.5 years.
I went through this with my mom exactly 7 years earlier.
That should mean I was somewhat prepared, right?
When I sit down and actually reflect upon the last few months of his life, it was pretty brutal. In the last update I gave, we were just starting to deal with some *confusion* issues. That progressed into a rotten condition. He was moved into a hospice-like facility for his final 6 weeks or so. I visited often… and it scared the crap out of me every single time I did. I never knew who I’d be talking to when I was with him. It was just awful.
The physical wasting was painful to witness, too. But at least they seemed to help keep the pain relatively under control for him.
It was the mental/emotional side that just really threw me for a loop. Did not see that coming. In hindsight, I think I really said good-bye to my Dad almost 2 months earlier.
It just sucked.
It just sucks.
While he was still here, and for the first several weeks after he was gone, I really struggled with guilt. I wasn’t the highest and best version of myself while he lived with us all summer, or when he first moved into assisted living after that. I was too stressed and it played out as not being as thoughtful as I could have been.
To everyone else, I was a peach of a daughter. I took care of him, cooked meals for him, took him with us to all the kids’ practices and events, took him to the grocery store, helped him up and down the stairs, took care of his dog… yep, I was a real peach.
Anybody could have done that.
He just wanted me to sit down and talk to him.
Why couldn’t I just put all the crazy day-to-day things on hold a little bit and just BE with him more? I don’t know. Would I have dropped everything had I known he wouldn’t be here to talk to or hug just 3 months later? I don’t know. You would think so… but I just don’t know.
Something finally washed over me about 5 or 6 weeks after his death. God knows. He knew. He planned this. I’m not saying He specifically planned for me to be stressed, and short on time, and wigging out about our finances, and destroying our septic system so that we only had one functional bathroom, and feeling pulled in too many directions, and feeling guilty as a result. But it’s all in God’s plan.
I have to go with that.
My Dad knows I loved him. He knows it now more than ever.
Most of the time I’m “OK” with it all. It’s part of life.
Right now, it’s one of those days where grief sneaks up on you and kicks you hard in the back of your knees… and they buckle. Without warning. The tears flow.
I miss my Dad.
I miss my Mom.
I miss my brother.
They’re all gone.
That one threw me for a loop as well. I didn’t anticipate how alone I’d feel, even with children and a husband. It’s different. There’s no one to share stories about “back in the day” with anymore. Well, at least not anyone who really cares! I think that parents are quite possibly the only people who unconditionally love you. I’m sure there are exceptions, but I feel that that type of love is gone now.
They’re together. That part makes me happy. It probably doesn’t work this way in Heaven, but to make myself feel better about things, I like to think this way: since Dad passed, they all got to celebrate Christmas together, and my mom & dad’s 50th wedding anniversary, and my brother’s birthday, and soon, my Dad’s 80th birthday. A few days later, I’ll celebrate mine without them.
It’s all just different.
My parents made the big holidays and the little holidays special with their little touches of thoughtfulness. After Mom was gone, Dad tried so hard to fill her shoes with the cards and gifts. Kinda’ funny… he wasn’t always too good at it. But he would buy me flowers for Valentine’s Day, and my birthday and Mother’s Day were more important to HIM than me! He just wanted it to be special for me.
I miss that guy.
The night he died, I had a very profound realization come over me.
For months… years, really… I’ve been caught up in the cancer, the pain, the medications, all the asinine things I heard in the cancer clinic and other doctors offices, the tests, the results, his accommodations and moving him 5 times in 2.5 years, selling his belongings, his finances, and eventually his prognosis and mental condition near the end.
Within seconds of witnessing his final breath… it was all gone. I was overcome by the enormity of what had just ended. Those stupid stressful details didn’t matter a lick. This human was gone forever. My Dad.
The magnitude of this man’s life was profound. I had vivid images of him as a child, as an elementary student, as the star athlete, as an officer in the Air Force, as high school teacher, as a coach, as the man who fell head over heels in love with my Mom and never left her side, as the loving dad… as the devastated dad who found his own son’s lifeless body in the lake after an accident, as the man who carried on – trying to make life as good as possible for his other child, as the man of principle and integrity who never gave up, as the manager, as the adoring grandpa, as the man who missed his wife so terribly much after she left, and as my lifelong rock – the man I could always trust, the man who would always be there for me.
It was just all gone.
An entire life of 79 years. Gone.
I’m not sure why that consumed my thoughts, but it was visceral. Still is.
It has been almost 3 months since he passed. I think of him every day. Most days are good and I’m grateful for the parents I had and the life we shared together.
This life thing is bittersweet. Growing up can really suck!
I’m OK, though. Time heals. I know the edges of the pain will soften. I know I’m OK. Sometimes I’m just more sad than others.
I’m thankful for my family and friends who have walked with me on this leg of the journey. Just like what happened when my mom was dying, there are people that just blow you away with how they rise to the occasion to be there for you. Some of the people were the same ones who were there for me when it was mom’s journey… and some brand new ones surfaced this time.
Those are some deep bonds that I’ll cherish forever, too.
I’m not going back to re-read or spell check or edit any of this. I just needed to get it off my chest. I don’t even want to see what I wrote!
From now on, you’ll probably just hear me talk about the good ‘ol stuff like health & wellness, nutrition, exercise, weight loss, toxicity, home schooling, health coaching, travels, field trips, and my uber-exciting day-to-day adventures!
If you actually made it this far, thank you. You are quite possibly a saint!