After watching my father suffer endlessly, I thought I was prepared for his death. I loved my father so much that I bravely told him he could go, we would take care of mom and carry him in our hearts. Well I mumbled this between enough tears to fill the ocean, but I did my best to comfort the man who comforted me my entire life. Cancer robbed my Dad of eating, playing golf, enjoying his golden years and now he was unable to get out of bed, use the bathroom and shower himself. Cancer was now taking his dignity and it was terrifying. The little every day tasks that we all take for granted were now just a faded memory for my father. I watched my real life super hero fight with everything he had and I knew he was tired. I tried to prepare myself mentally for my Dad’s passing. I thought I was ready.
As I watched my father take his last breath I could feel my heart breaking in a million pieces. As I watched my sister run her fingers over my father’s eyes and close them I could feel a piece of my heart leaving with my father. As I watched my sister remove his IV and other gadgets the nurses put on him I began to realize my not so baby sister was brave beyond her years. I watched my sister the RN turn into Florence Nightingale as both of my feet were firmly cemented in the ground. I could not move or speak, I just watched completely frozen.
Throughout the past few years I made so many bargains with God. Bargains like, God if you let my Dad have one more meal I will do X. Or hello God if you let my Dad have one more drink I will do Y. I became so desperate that I was willing to shave time off from my life or auction off my organs just to watch my father enjoy a lousy glass of water. Did God forget? Was he listening? My Dad died unable to eat or drink. It was a cruel death and now food became the symbol of my father’s struggle.
The first few days after my Dad passed everything was a complete blur. Everyone wants to feed you, which is nice but I was unable to even look at food. I was losing weight faster than any of those crazy trendy diets that hijack your news feed on Facebook, the pounds were falling off. Clothes that were snug were now falling off. Food that I once loved tasted like battery acid. I ordered my all time favorite dish at my father’s repass luncheon at our all time favorite restaurant and each bite tasted like I was eating hot garbage. My wine tasted like a big glass of vomit. I tried talking to our guests and everyone sounded like the Charlie Brown teacher, the room became hot and I was positive I was going to pass out. At one point I remember looking for my mother and feeling very panicked. WHERE was she? I scanned the room 3 times and my mom was nowhere to be found. I started running, yes running to the ladies room. What if she fell and hit her head on the toilet? She was upset and had some nerve going to the ladies room alone. I ripped the door to the ladies room wide opened and exclaimed, “Oh good I found you!” Realizing I was acting completely crazy I fake peed and left the restroom with my mom. My new little friend anxiety was slowly making her appearance. Since my father’s passing I find myself creating the craziest scenarios regarding my mom. I’m constantly worried that I will lose her or something will happen to her. I’ve tried telling her she needs a life alert bracelet just in case or maybe I could I could microchip her, but she explained to me she’s too young for that sort of stuff. I haven’t told her microchips are just for family pets so there’s still hope on that one.
Anxiety has become a frequent visitor. I’ve learned that tears are never-ending. You can cry so much that your eyes are literally on fire and your brain feels like it’s going to pop. And those little suckers can come at the darndest times. You can be doing something totally normal like grocery shopping , a song will come on and bam you’re crying. Your heart aches so much you can feel it in your bones.
Grieving sucks the life out of you. Surround yourself with love and support. My memories have become my life line often rescuing me from slipping into a black hole of grief. And sometimes, if I’m really lucky a beautiful fluffy white feather will be thrown into my path and I smile because I know it’s a gift from heaven.