Had what could be my final conversation with Dad this morning before his discharge (I believe that I”ll probably have at least one more visit before he dies, but it’s impossible to know). Mom was getting a prescription filled. My brother was bringing the car around.
So it was just me and Dad in the room. And he said he wanted to talk about dying. That no one but me was willing to address the elephant in the room. This was not surprising to me. I quit pretending years ago, which is what earned me my Black Sheep of the Family badge. I found it somewhat ironic that in the end I”m the only one with whom Dad felt comfortable talking about difficult things.
I asked him how he felt about dying. I told him that not only did he need to heal physically but that he needed to heal emotionally. That it was difficult enough to die. Even more difficult when you’re not allowed to talk about it and must pretend that you feel nothing. He said “Mom won’t let me talk about it. Doesn’t want to hear it.” I told him it was his death and he should talk about it if he wished. If Mom did not wish to discuss it then he could find a support group for cancer patients, could talk to me or could always talk to God.
Then the conversation was over. It was all the foray into reality that he could handle. We were back to being “pretty and positive” which is what my family does well.
But I was able, for a moment, to offer my father grace and freedom. It’s probably as much resolution as I”m going to get. And it’s enough…
By this time tomm. I will be on the plane headed home and Dad should be back home to finish his recovery and reflect on what he wishes to do with the time that remains. I was left alone with him in his hospital room and felt very strongly that I was to attempt to open dialog with him regarding his prognosis and his wishes for the future. I had hoped that we could have a heart to heart that might be helpful for him. I told him that one freeing thing that could come out of the difficult news he had received is that he was freed from having to fight and that that energy could now be spent doing whatever he wished. I encouraged him to reflect on what he wished to do with the time that remained and tried to help him understand that he faced an opportunity to embrace life in a way that only those with limited time can do.
I’m not sure if I was able to make a difference. And I understand that I may have been premature. He’s probably still in denial. But at least I tried to have a heartfelt conversation…
I am grateful to be going home tomm. I am numb, exhausted, dead. I will need to re-embrace life myself. This has been a difficult week and I feel it has cost me some of my own passion for life. I will get it back. But for now, I just want the comfort of my own home and those who love me, cherish me.
There will most likely have to be more time spent with Dad in the time he has left. But this leg of the journey is done.
But it seems there are two kinds of people in life. People who grow and change. Who respond to circumstances by becoming better people. And those who just entrench and get bitter. These days I”m asking myself, which would I be? I hope I would be in the first category but I don’t want to self-righteously delude myself. I am asking myself hard questions.
Dad is getting meaner and meaner. I’m actually worried about Mom’s safety. Perhaps it’s the drugs? Perhaps they are impacting his ability to self-edit and self-control? Or may this is just who he is? It’s certainly not new behavior. It’s what I”ve always seen in him. I just thought that facing death would change him?
Grief for the father-daughter relationship you’re never going to experience? Relief? Anger? Guilt? What?
I feel nothing. Except exhaustion. Maybe it’s still to come? One day at a time…
Discovered cancer had spread beyond what they anticipated. They went ahead with the colon resection but decided not to put him at surgical risk for the rest of it since there wasn’t much point. It’s all over. They gave him 6 to 24 months depending on whether he goes ahead with the rest of the chemo.
Plane boards in about 2 hours. Lots of anxiety but so far no panic attacks. My doctor issued me an anxiety med just in case panic attacks became overwhelming. So far they have not been necessary. I asked her for a prescription because on a previous trip to see my Dad a panic attack almost got me thrown off a plane. It was completely humiliating.
Dad is having his cancer surgery on Thursday. Losing some colon, liver, lung, 5 lymph nodes. Prognosis is very poor. Brother doesn’t think he’ll survive the surgery. I am dreading the flight. Dreading the panic attacks seeing my Dad causes. Dreading the accusations and hostility of their friends who do not know the truth. But going is the right thing to do whether he deserves it or not. Especially if he does not make it. His overall prognosis at this point is 6%. I can’t believe the doctors are even agreeing to do the surgery instead of giving his slot to someone with a better chance.