This week I am going to take a break from writing about the usual weight-loss and mommyhood topics, although as a side note I am back on the healthy eating wagon and have already lost 8 pounds! Even with that success, I need to take a moment to get more personal. To use this little online diary as a way to cope and shuffle myself through the process of grief. Because this week I lost much more than any number on the scale. This week, and to be specific, at 3:53pm on Friday, I lost my Dad.
My Dad, was in short, the most wonderful man on the planet. As a boy he grew up in an orphanage, only to emerge with a positive spirit into his first foster home at 16. He excelled in sports through college, and was adored as a teacher throughout his career, but what he was most amazing at was being a father. He raised me on his own, certainly not small undertaking by any means, and we functioned as a pair. Just me and him, for the majority of my life, and that is something I wouldn’t trade for anything.
Almost eight years ago, we got the news, the news that limited time. Stage 3 colon cancer had been detected and there was no telling how much time we had left, but we knew all of it would be borrowed. Well, he fought harder than anyone so he could see my dreams come true. He made sure to dance with me at my wedding, and to see me become a mother. And for a short time, my princess was the dancing spirit he needed to fight just a little bit harder. A few months back he had yet another round of radiation to try and rid his body of the disease that would never be cured, but this time he never got to feel better. The relief wasn’t coming, so somehow he had to know it was time.
Late Wednesday evening, I got the call, the call I had been dreading for so long, the call letting me know that the end was very near. He had entered into hospice home care and had rapidly declined. I needed to be with him. So, first thing in the morning I packed up the kids and we went to his bedside. His body was there, but it had already visibly changed so much since the time we saw him last, just over a month prior. His face and eyes were starting to sink and there was a gurgle with each breath he took. Looking around the room he was in, there were pictures, of only one person, my princess, and they were everywhere. He opened his eyes and smiled when we walked in the room. It was a little much for my royals to handle so I made it quick and told him how much I loved him multiple times, much like a broken record. In a weakened voice he struggled and forced out an I love you too, then began to cough. The nurse came in, helped to soothe, and after a while we were on our way with the promise of tomorrow’s return. That night, I didn’t sleep, I lay awake staring at my phone, mortified at the thought of it ringing. Friday morning finally came, and in the afternoon I rushed to be back at his side, just me this time.
I got there and he had declined. I said my hello and my I love you and went to get the brief from the nurse. The phrase he’s in a stage of actively dying hit me like a freight train. I wasn’t ready to not need him. I wasn’t ready to let him go. But I knew that I needed to tell him I would be ok. After another visitor left his room, I rushed in. I still had things he needed to hear. So, I held his hand and I played him a video of my princess telling him how much she loved him, and I heard his gurgled breath. Then I said I love you so much, and we are going to be ok, it’s ok for you to go. One more gurgled breath, and then… Silence. He was gone. I waited there still holding back the tears, holding his hand, just the two of us, and still telling him how much I loved him. Then I walked out to tell the others that he had gone. His wife went in, the nurse came back, and he was officially pronounced. I helped the nurse give him his final sponge bath along with his wife, her on one side and me on the other. Helping him to leave this earth in the best way possible. Then all we had to do was wait for the funeral/cremation folks to collect his body.
They were about two hours from arrival, so after talking with the social worker about grief, I went to do what I instinctively needed to do. I went back into his room and sat by his bedside, holding his hand, just the two of us, until the man came to take him away. I gave him his very last I love you, Daddy , a kiss on the forehead, and then he was on his way. I left shortly after because my relationship with my step-mother is only slightly better than those in fairy tales, so there was no reason to stay.
I now go in cycles of strength, to complete breakdown drowning in tears, to numb. By some magical power, I have not turned to food but to exercise, but even that only gives a brief escape from the cycle. I see those last few moments with him every time I close my eyes. I started out in this world in his arms, and he left this world in mine. It was just as it should be, regardless of how sad it was. I am selfishly devastated, but I know he is in a better place. A place of peace where there is no pain, no pills to take, or port to clean. I know that eventually, I will close my eyes and his last breath won’t be there. I know, that eventually, I will get used to the pain of him being gone. I know that I will see him in moments, and feel his presence , and that he will somehow still be watching out for me. But… For now… I’m lost without him. I am crushed, pieces of me are missing, and I am doing what I can to slowly piece myself back together.