I had a holiday post planned.
I had a “day in the life of Dad’s radiation” post planned.
I had a “oh crap we are heading into Winter Break and what the hell am I going to do” post planned.
And it all went out the window.
My dad died December 20, 2013 at 9:04 PM EST.
I’ve blogged on here and on his CaringBridge site about his journey. While it wasn’t the most pleasant experience, I thought for sure it wouldn’t end so quickly. It was barely six months since he had surgery, two months from ending IV chemo, and a mere few days after finishing radiation.
Way back in May, the surgeon and then the oncologist told him he could beat it. The said that by Christmas Dad would eat turkey for dinner. Dad said, no – I want lobster.
He didn’t get either.
On Monday, December 16, Dad finished his radiation sessions. He got a certificate from the staff and a fond sendoff. On Tuesday Mom was taking him back to the hospital because he was coughing up blood and phlegm. He was admitted with pneumonia. Further tests showed (possible) blood clots around his heart or lungs. He was having difficulties breathing. His heart function dropped to 20% that day.
By Wednesday evening, there weren’t many changes. His heart function did pick a bit – 45%. Still, I knew I had to go back up. I left Husband and the kids Friday morning for the long drive. On the way up, I alternated between sobbing and maintaining some positivity. After getting up there, my mom, older sister and I drove up to the hospital to see him.
I don’t know why but when I got there I had to steel myself for the worst. He looked horrific, more so than I had seen him in the past (and that says a lot). His arms were battlescarred from the blood draws. He was back on the BiPap machine after a failed attempt to wean him off that and back onto a cannula. He seemed to strain to breathe, even with the mask. He was so frail that I was afraid of breaking him if I hugged him. His dinner plate was untouched, even the pineapple (his favorite) was still there.
But he seemed in good spirits. He was happy to see us. He put his arm up in greeting when my older sister waved at him. I showed him pictures of the kids from their recent snow adventures which he grinned. Mom stepped out to talk to the Attendee while we amused dad with random stories. We tried to find Gunsmoke or some western but alas we settled for a random old movie.
Mom came back with somber news – that it looks like he was now in renal failure. During the transition to the cannula, and while Mom was gone, Dad decided to rip off the cannula. When the staff found him he was cyanotic. At this point, it was a matter of time. We decided that now was the time to start calling on family to let them know. We had planned on Mom coming back with us but we decided that she should stay while we went back to the farmhouse.
I didn’t get 20 miles down the road before my phone lit up. It wasn’t a number I knew but I answered it anyway. Mom was telling me to pull off to the side of the road but I tossed the phone to my sister and turned back around. I flew up to the hospital, hands gripping the steering wheel while I can hear my sister making the worst kind of call to my other sister.
We stayed at the hospital a couple more hours to get our bearings, to make some phone calls, and to say goodbye. I have never felt such heartwrenching sadness – seeing him was unbearable. I was not prepared. I don’t think I was ever prepared. And yet, I had to put on my big girl panties and be there for Mom.
The days have flown by. There were the arrangements, writing the obituary, choosing the flowers, picking out photos and music. The Church offered a reception after the funeral so I was accepting RSVPs for that too. And the calls to various accounts that began with me saying, “This is his daughter. No he cannot speak to you right now, because he has passed on…”.
The worst one was to his oncologist office because he had a reassessment appointment Tuesday to see if the cancer came back.
Ugh. Merry Fucking Christmas indeed. If B’s birthday wasn’t on Tuesday I would just flush this year right down the toilet.