We brought him home from the hospital on Christmas Eve and brought in hospice for his final days.
Until recently, I didn't tell very many people that he was sick. We found out last year that Dad had prostate cancer and by the time they caught it, it had already invaded his spine. Dad insisted he could beat it and could have 5 good years.
And I believed him.
My dad is the luckiest person I know and if anyone could kick cancer's booty, it was him. Have I mentioned he's only 64 and is in great shape--or rather--he was in great shape up until a few months ago? And that medicines and shots and treatments that were thousands of dollars were given to him for free? If he set his mind to something, it just always happened.
But that isn't the case this time. Less than 2 weeks ago, I had to face the fact that he is not going to beat this. His PSA is over 1000 and the ugly, evil tumors are literally popping up all over his body.
Luckily, the office for one of my jobs was closed for the week and I was able to take off on the only day I was scheduled to work at my other job, so I was able to spend most of my time at my dads. In fact, my girls had to wait until the day after Christmas to celebrate because I wasn't home (and even then, a few of their presents weren't wrapped and I handed them to them in the bags I brought them home from the store in). Between all my family, the house was full and I liked sleeping on the couch, knowing I was close to my dad if he or my stepmom needed me.
But then this week rolled around and I had to go back to work. I walked in on Monday and literally thought I was going to lose it. I felt incredibly guilty that I was there and not with my dad. And I resented the fact that my co-workers were laughing and joking and oblivious to the fact that my dad was laying at home in a hospital bed with maybe only hours to live.
Even though part of me doesn't want it to.
And through all of this, a thought that has circulated in my head is "I have failed so many friends who have gone through losing their dads." In fact, I didn't even attend the funerals of some because I just didn't think it would matter. And even those I did attend, I don't think I empathized with them enough or offered them the support that so many have given me the past few weeks. I didn't text them to tell them I was praying for them or pray for them afterward as often as I could have and should have. So, Courtney and Stacey and Ali and Tonya and the many others I brushed past when you were in my shoes--I'm sorry. I didn't realize the depth of what you were feeling. And even if I had, I don't know that I still would have been able to say anything that would have changed your sadness. That will always be a regret I have.
Grieving sucks almost as much as cancer. And grieving someone who is still alive is excruciating. I find myself wondering what Easter and Christmas and birthdays will be like without him. And don't even get me started on Father's Day and even Mother's Day since he was both for so many years to me. And while there is comfort in knowing he will be in heaven and able to eat any kind of pie he wants, it's still just so very hard.
But, life does and will go on.