I remember the faded-in-the-summer-sun red Coleman cooler,
old and worn,
holding the smell of sour,
salt and pepper shakers, just in case,
a fork tucked wrapped inside napkins
and tucked between pamphlets of content
I cannot recall.
Dad would ramble in the house after work,
dusty and tired from spending the day staring
through the dirt-speckled glass of his Caterpillar blade,
yellow and rusty,
with Herrmann’s printed along its side.
Mom would have dinner waiting,
something made from scratch,
hot and flavorful,
and never appreciated enough.
I remember the entire house smelling
of a construction site during those evenings,
with roused dirt brought in on his boots
skimming through our nostrils while we watched tv,
lying on the cool hardwood floor.
Wheel of Fortune, wrestling, Urkel.
We would tire and saunter
off to our twin beds
in front of open windows,
hoping for some kind of breeze,
and that cooler would sit in the kitchen
next to the wallpapered wall patiently,
ready to be picked up and packed full
the next morning, to start all over again.
We lost our dad last night around 6:45pm, and even though it was hard, it went in one of the most peaceful ways I could have imagined it going.
The night before, around 12:30 am, he had had an “episode” where he got worked up, his heart rate spiked, he was sweating and freaking out. He cried. I called my sister and brothers, and we all were here clear up until he passed last night, along with the nieces and nephews and grandbabies. We sort of kept a vigil over him, making sure he wasn’t in any pain or anxiety, and my mom noticed his heart rate was dropping pretty rapidly. We all gathered around his bed, and as my sister-in-law finished The Lord’s Prayer, he passed away. And the sun came out from behind the clouds, the first time all day. It was surreal. It was something that you might not believe unless you had been here.
There was something bigger than us here last night.
He is at peace. He is in no more pain. And he made it to June, just like he said he would.
I love you Dad. May you rest in peace.
June is going to be a rough month; I already know that. With so many things going on, it is going to be a time for many tears and smiles and laughs and hugs. I have to face the fact that my dad is not going to make it to July. And if he does, by some odd miracle, it is going to be the most exhausting and emotionally draining thing we have ever been through. It already is. He is in pain. Horrible pain that makes me even want to cry. He was always the strong one among us, never admitting when something hurts or aches. And now he moans because he is in constant pain. Every breath, every movement. The cancer has reduced this larger-than-life man to a weak and tired man, who just wants it to be over. It’s the most awful thing I have ever seen. More than once he has has said “Please just let me die.”
And there is aboslutely nothing we can do about it. We can’t make it go faster to save him from the suffering. We can’t hurry the cancer along or force it to make him stop breathing. We can only try to make it comfortable and as painless as possible, which is not an easy thing to do. The harder it gets, the faster I wish it would come. That sounds awful, but truly, he is suffering. I know that. He knows that. My mom and brothers and sister know that. If there was a way for him to just go to sleep tonight, forever, peacefully, I think we all would hold a small bit of relief in our hearts knowing that he is not in any more pain.
It will be sad. It will be hard. And people deal with this every day. They lose loved ones and somehow power on through the pain. So that is what we will do.
That is what Dad wants us to do.
You are my muse.
Please be gentle
with your scorching
+ running on 3 or so hours of sleep. Last night was just a restless one.
+ designing stamps for summer.
+ hoping the house stuff gets moving faster.
+ drinking water like a fish.
+ not concentrating any better.
+ thankful that I cut my hair. So easy. Even though I want a ponytail today.
+ craving a Snickers Blizzard. Weird.
+ daydreaming constantly about house plans and decor.
+ trying not to let small aggravations turn into big ones.
+ hating that stress has made my face break out.
+ intrigued by Amanda Bynes. Terrible, I know. But I can’t not be curious.
That sinking feeling that there is no fixing this,
no going back.
I imagine that this is what drowning feels like,
the suffocation of fighting
against such strong forces
that will ultimately win.
We know it will get us,
but we fight anyway.
We hang on until our fingers bleed,
and our hearts cry.
We didn’t get good news at the doctor appointment on Thursday like we had hoped. The doctor told us that not only had the chemo not worked, the tumors have grown significantly. The cancer is now in his bones, and it is weakening and breaking his ribs, which is causing so much of the horrible pain he has. His pain patches were increased, as well as his morphine intake, to help control the pain. There is no sense in suffering more than he already is.
We have decided to go with hospice care to help support us until it is his time to go. Nurses will come in periodically and are available 24 hours if we should need.
I am scared, like I said before. I am scared, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is ready. That is the only comforting part. He does not seem to be scared, just more ready to be done with the pain. Two different priests came, two of his favorites. I think he is at peace with dying, and both priests, Father Tim and Father Peter, helped him in a way that maybe I don’t understand.
So yes, we are on a different course now, one we knew we would have to take eventually but not this soon. Please keep my dad in your thoughts and hope for the least amount of pain possible for him.