HEALTH UPDATE: I have met with a very kind surgeon who went over options. The only way to know for sure if there are active cancer cells in the tumor monster is to remove and study under a microscope. The problem is that there are areas that cannot be removed. The vascular areas are off limits as it could damage the blood flow. I obtained a second opinion from the amazing Dr. Evans in Milwaukee. He has concerns of complications after surgery. Ascites. The build up of fluids in the abdomen. I’ve had ascites. I had four liters of fluid drained from my belly when I was at my worst. Dr. Evans said the surgery could do more harm than good.
I have not yet made a final decision. I have treatment and a meeting with my oncologist tomorrow and a follow up with the surgeon next week. If this surgery isn’t certain to extend my life, I don’t see how I can take the risk of complications. Time will tell!
Nine years ago. The weather was similar as it is today. Sunny and cool. The dreams of spring, soon to become a reality. I packed up my car and headed to Johnson Creek for an important visit. I stopped in Lake Mills on the way. I needed some healthy food. The place I was going had a table filled with cakes, cookies, bars and candy. I think we all needed something different. I went to the Sentry store and bought some fruit, but as this purchase was a last minute idea, I still needed a bowl to put it all in. There weren’t any options at Sentry so I traveled down the road to the dollar store. I found the display of plastic bowls. An array of colors to choose from. I’ll take the blue one. My Dad’s favorite color.
I’m getting myself and my new huge blue bowl into the car and my phone rings. I clumsily struggle to find the phone and get the bowl into the car at the same time. I look a mess with fruit, bags, bowls, purse and coffee littering my entire front seat. “Hello?”. It’s sister Melanie. “It’s time, come as soon as you can. The nurses are seeing signs.”. My heart sinks. I knew this moment was inevitable. We all knew. “I’m on my way. I have fruit.”.
I can’t get there fast enough. I’m anxious. Wait for me Dad. Please don’t go yet. I pull into the parking lot. The building is set back into a beautiful setting. I’ve arrived at Rainbow Hospice. It’s only been a week since we brought Dad here. I rode in the ambulance with him and have never cried as hard as I did during that ride. Trying to stay strong but knowing I couldn’t hold it in much longer. I let it out that night. Now it’s a week later. The tears are replaced with adrenalin.
I arrive and he’s alive. He’s still and sleeping. He looks comfortable and I’m relieved. My sister and I hug like we’ve never hugged before. This is hard. We need to make calls. Mom has someone bringing her. Aunts and Uncles have been notified. Siblings are coming. It’s heartwarming to see everyone. Your whole life, when you see your entire family, it’s for a special occasion…so the feelings are confusing when you are actually there for the death of the man that created you.
The day goes on. The “signs” of death continue. We pray. We pace. We visit in the large and welcoming social room. Unlimited Coffee. Brother Ben brings beer. Oh Ben, that looks really good. What the hell. It’s five o’clock somewhere and I’m really freaked out right now. I pop my first one and it is delicious. I have a few more and my near breakdown turns into an awkward display of coping. I follow through with the urge to tell my Dad every last secret I’ve kept from him before he’s gone forever. I tell him that time in high school when I didn’t come home all night? I was not having sex with a boy. I know by your interrogation when I finally got home that morning, that is what you thought. But I swear to you! It’s not true! It was important to me that he believed me. So I told him. I look back at this and I’m not sure what is more embarrassing. Catching a buzz at hospice or my priority of death bed confessions.
The hours go on. He is so stubborn! Dad’s priest finally arrives. It’s dark outside now. There is a large group at his bedside. I am at his left side, holding his hand. It’s been a long journey. Fuck cancer ALL TO HELL! Why did he have to go through this? Why did we ALL have to go through this? How did we get here? I can’t believe it is almost over. His fight is almost over. We pray. Father gives last rights and prays over Dad. As he finishes, dad stops breathing. He was waiting.
I’m not surprised that he waited one bit. He was dedicated to God. So when he told me two weeks before he died he was angry with God, I could not believe my ears. We had both changed completely at that moment. The girl too busy to focus on God and the man dedicated to God had switched roles. I understand how it can be easy to be angry about living in hell with cancer but I saw God’s role in a completely different way. I was reaching out to God to get me through my Dad’s illness. He was pushing God away. After he had expressed his anger to me, I asked him how he could turn his back on God now? When he needed him most? To see him pass on to eternity after waiting for final blessings was a huge relief to me that he wasn’t angry anymore. His love for his God was strong.
Nine years ago we lost him. Nine years ago he was embraced by the arms of our Lord. Such a bitter sweet feeling. I do miss him dearly and wonder what our conversations would be like if he were here today. I think he would be consoling me. I think he would be proud of me. I think he would be absolutely head over heals in love with Willow. The selfish side of me wishes so much that he was still here. My heart reminds me that he is in the kingdom of ever lasting peace. That’s comforting.