Friday, February 11, 2011

After

Over the last few months, we started to use the word after

It was never really necessary to clarify what we meant when we used it.  Everyone, even the kids, knew. 

When you have a family member with a terminal disease, you start to use words like that.

You know what is coming, at least to some degree.  And eventually you figure that you should start to try and prepare yourself for it.

I thought I did. 

In a lot of ways I succeeded.  I knew Dad pretty well, predicted with an eerie accuracy how his last weeks would play out.  

I knew he'd want to keep working past the point where his body would really let him, and that he would need help to do it, but that he wouldn't ask for it. 

I knew that he'd hang on and hang on until he'd tidied up the things he felt he needed to, and that it was just better if I helped him as much as he would let me.

I knew that he'd want to be in control of as much as he could for as long as he could.

I knew that he'd lie about how much pain he was in.

I knew that once he turned the corner, he'd go quickly. 

I knew all those things.  I knew what this disease was going to do to him.  I armed myself with as much knowledge as I could, surrounded myself with people I could turn to with my questions.  I knew it was going to be rough, but I knew that he'd be more at peace if he was in a calm environment, so I did the best I could to make that happen.

I knew how much I hated what was happening to him, to us. 

I knew how much it already hurt.

What I wasn't prepared for, not at all, was how much it still hurts now.

I know a lot of things now, after.  I know that he is in a better place.  I know that he is still with me.  I know that he isn't hurting anymore.  I know that he was at peace.  I know that I did everything I could to help him.

I don't know how to fix this hole in my heart. 

I don't know how to begin to imagine my life without him.

I do better being strong when I need to.  I do better when I feel like I am making some contribution. 

He's gone now, no one to hide my tears from anymore.  There are no more medication schedules, no middle of the night cell phone alarms.  It's quiet.  No oxygen machine, no nebulizer, no constant crime drama on the TV.  No more trips to the lab.  No more.

I feel a little lost. 

And I don't know how to fix that.

After is a hard place to be.

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