Friday, November 18, 2011

The rest of it

I feel a bit like I've been to hell and back.  A few times.

I tried not to think about what yesterday was, but then I found myself sitting a parking lot crying.  I knew why.

Two years ago yesterday, on November 17, 2009, my father was formally diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.

These past two years....just wow.

The diagnosis wasn't a complete shock, at least not to me.  Once he'd told me about the mass that showed up on the MRI of his shoulder, I knew that probably wasn't going to be indicative of anything good.  Then the doctors suddenly started moving faster, and tests were ordered and blood work done.

I'd walked the scary path of medical urgency before, and I knew what it probably meant.

Still, it's one of those days that I'll always remember.  I'll remember who I was talking to on the phone, trying to distract my mind from impatiently waiting from them with news.  I'll remember sinking to the floor against the wall and sobbing once the receiver went dead on the other side.  I'll remember walking outside and telling my husband the news.  I'll remember making up my mind at that exact moment that though we weren't prepared for a trip at all, we were going to California for Thanksgiving in a few days.  We had to.

They didn't give him a lot of time, they tried hard not to give him false hope.  He fought like hell for as long as his body would let him.

He softened.  He loved a little more.  He grew patience quickly.  He saw the beauty in simple things.

Often, he didn't need to talk about anything at all to feel comforted.  He just wanted to share the same space with us, and that was enough.

Things became less important, time became more.

He spent more of his effort on taking care of things that needed done, far less on worrying about the things that most people occupy their minds with all day.

He was doing this on his own terms.  And he did, until the day he died.

I thought for sure that losing him would be the hard part.  I know now that it wasn't.  In many ways, it was the easiest.

He made sure of that.

He found peace before he went, and that was a gift to us all.

It's everything else that has been harder.  The tragedies in my own life since then.  The tragedies in the lives of others.  The things he wasn't here for.  The things he couldn't help with.  The times when I'd have given anything to call him.  When I've needed encouraged that I was making the right choice, when I've needed reminded that I am strong and capable and can get through anything.  When I've wanted him in my corner, ready to fight.  When I just needed someone to tell me that everything would be okay.

Those are the hard times.

This year has been the most catastrophic of my life.  I have lost so much, far more than you all are aware.  Questioned who I am, who I should be.  Doubted everything I thought I knew.  Wondered where I go from here.  Worried if I can do it all.

His voice in my head tells me I can.

I have to trust that he's right.

Life's not about worrying about what already happened, it's about what you do with the rest of it.
My Dad, Thanksgiving weekend 2009

God, I miss him right now.


  1. Your daddy was such a handsome man! I'm so sorry that this year has been so terrible to you. Thinking of you.

  2. He looked like an amazing guy. I'm so sad for you. But it's kind of like what you were saying -- he put the voice in your head. He got you ready for all of this. I know it's so hard right now because he's not here to talk to, but he's gotten you ready. That's why he was such a great dad. xoxo


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