It’s been quite a while since I last wrote on this blog, since September 2017 to be exact. A lot has happened in these last few months- one being my father passing away.
Five years ago, when I was about 15, my father was diagnosed with liver cancer and the doctor told us he had 6 months to live. I vividly remember that day. My father called me and my little brother downstairs and I saw my mom crying on the couch. I knew instantly that something wasn’t right looking at her face but I never thought it was going to be a death sentence. I remember my dad telling us what the doctor said, that there was a tumor in his liver and that his liver was also wrecked with cirrhosis. My mother sat next to me sobbing and my brother didn’t say a word, this was the moment that I realized I couldn’t let them see how upset I was.
My father always said that I was the most level headed one in the house and that I was his rock so I knew that if I broke down right there he would as well. So I simply said,”Okay. Is that all the doctor told you?” I don’t remember what else I said but I do remember looking out the glass door and watching the sunset. I tried to focus my energy on watching the sky change colors and how pretty the golden sunlight looked passing through the leaves of the tree in our front yard because I could feel the anxiety and sadness washing over me and I didn’t want them to see that. I remember going upstairs and locking my bedroom door and immediately breaking down. I also remember calling my best friend and crying over the phone. It’s a surprise she could understand me through the hyperventilating and sobbing but she told me she would come over and pick me up for a sleepover so I could get my mind off of things. Looking back at it now I am pretty sure that was one of my first bad anxiety attacks.
After that day everyone in my family changed. My parents became more religious and overbearing demanding we do everything together as a family. I remember getting in trouble one Valentine’s Day because I wanted to spend the day with my friends but my parents were livid saying that I should be with family because my dad was dying. That was the card they played anytime they wanted to get their way and it honestly made me resent them for a while. My little brother on the other hand became more reserved and quiet. He never opened up about his feelings and he didn’t apply himself in school. Meanwhile I was starting to focus on going to college and try to handle the pressure my father put on me to take care of the family. I typically call this period of my life my bitch period. I was so stressed with graduating high school and applying to colleges that the added pressure of my dying father pushed me over the edge. Luckily I had a pretty strong support group of friends who kept me in check otherwise I probably would’ve given up on everything.
Flash forward a little bit farther into the future and this year was probably one of the hardest years of my life and probably everyone in my family’s lives. In the beginning of the year the hospital finally told us that there was nothing else they could do for my father. They put him into hospice care and we started planning for his death. Oddly enough when my father was first placed in hospice he was still healthy; he still seemed like the man I knew my whole life. In fact, my mother told me of a conversation they had and my father wondered if he was put in hospice too soon. He seemed fine up until the week before he died. The week before, my mother and I were up until 5 am trying to take care of him because he was having hallucinations and wandering around the house but he didn’t know where he was. He also kept falling and my mother and I couldn’t life him up so we ended up having to call the fire department to come carry him back to bed. That night hospice said he was what they called “pre-active” which meant that he was in the stage before dying.
Then a week later I was about to go to bed when my mother started banging on my door sobbing. She said that my dad told her to let him go. So I went downstairs and held my fathers hand. I didn’t know that was going to be the last time I was going to hold his hand. My mother was in hysterics, his two sisters were also over at our house crying, and my brother was as distant as ever. So I did what I knew he would’ve wanted me to do- I acted as his rock. I held his hand and told him I forgave him for wanting to go and that I would take care of the family. I told him I loved him and that if he was in pain and it was his time to go that I gave him permission to do so.
That was a long night. I ended up calling hospice and getting instructions from them to administer the liquid morphine because he was in an incredible amount of pain and he couldn’t swallow his oxycodone. I was so scared but I was the only one stable enough to take action and care for him. An over night nurse came over that night and told my mom that he was in the “active” stage now and he had about five days left. I remember being relieved that we still had more time and maybe I could talk to him one last time the next day. Unfortunately he passed away in his sleep about three hours after.
This past month has been insane but I am also relieved that my father is no longer in pain. Despite preparing myself for years the day he died still came as a shock to me. I don’t think you can truly prepare yourself for something like that but thankfully my friends, family, and therapist have all been great with supporting me. I do miss my father greatly and I wish he could’ve been there when I eventually graduate college, get married, and have kids of my own but perhaps he is watching over me and my family and we will be reunited with him later on in life.