Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Reality just rang the doorbell and came with a delivery

The slow march of Death has a way of quietly advancing under the surface and then popping up after it  has made huge advances. My dad has been slowly getting worse over the past few months and between the chemo, radiation and tumors he is a wilted version of the man he was earlier this year. He’s lost all of his hair, his face is swollen, and his legs are thin. This week he had unexplained swelling in his face which has turned the bags under his eyes into fluid filled sacs like some sort of bubble eyed goldfish. He’s feeling ill all over, and the fact that he’s been confined indoors for the past few months (from a lack of balance and doctor’s orders to avoid the sun) is taking its toll on his spirit. He’s starting to suffer.

Until a week or two ago I have been able to find comfort in the fact that in spite of his appearance he was in good spirits and not in a lot of pain. While I knew things were advancing internally, I have carried around the feeling that things might have been stable and we might have a plateau for a few months. I didn’t feel too bad about the situation because it hadn’t gotten ugly. I could live in the moment and not worry what was around the corner. Well that moment is here.

I want to blame the medicine for his recent problems but the oncologist thinks it is probably related to his tumor. I don’t really know what’s going on, but at this point everything seems pointless and I just want my father to have dignity as he slips away and experience as little pain as possible. This process doesn’t seem helpful and whatever time they may be giving him, they are taking back from him with all of the doctor’s visits.

I don’t really know what I am feeling right now.  Looking back on my life I am a little resentful for the lack of relationship I have had with my father and how I haven’t had the chance to do the types of things that other guys do to connect with each other – hunting, fishing, hiking, and all of the things fathers and sons should do with each other. I feel like I haven’t been able to bond with as many guys because of it. He’s also been harsh and critical and now those traits live in me. But there is nothing that can be done about that, much like his smoking. What is done is done. It must be accepted. There is no point or benefit from dwelling on that. However, I am annoyed he hasn’t been more open while he still has the chance. I guess I have expected him to crack open, bear his soul and say all sorts of things he’s never said to me. I have wanted him to acknowledge what’s happened, and maybe his regrets if he has any. Just to hear he wanted things to be differently than they were would be nice. I don’t mind we are broken, flawed people but I do what to be able to know the soul of my father. He’s been too guarded. I don’t know how to crack the stone shell he has around his feelings.

I also feel like I am too young to lose a parent. I feel like I am slowly becoming some sort of orphan. It’s a strange feeling of being exposed to the world. I’ve always viewed my parents as sort of a front line defense for whatever problems the world throws at me. The image of a strong, protective father is now just a memory from my childhood. While we haven’t had the rosiest relationship, I knew they were there if I needed them. That counts for a lot. I know mom is still here, but I do feel like I am facing some sort of nakedness or vulnerability. The kid in me still feels like I should have a daddy, and I probably won’t next year barring a miracle.  

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