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My Dad

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  • #21357
    cnma
    Participant

    My Dad
    It was a hot summer day when I got the call
    Standing in your hospital room we anxiously awaited your results
    When the doctor came in his face was drawn
    Reading his face already had my heart breaking
    He said you had a tumour spread out like a butterfly in the centre of your brain
    It was already stage four and had likely been there for longer than we could’ve known.
    You’re bright blue eyes were so alert, watching us break down but not compute ending a thing.
    And you asked if you could go home, and told us everything was okay.
    You might’ve had a year, you might’ve had five.
    The prognosis was never clear.
    This form of cancer was so rare we couldn’t know what the future held
    January 14th 2017 ripped the earth out from under our feet and left us falling into the unknown for months and then years to come
    They never thought you’d live the years you were given
    Those years were both a blessing and a curse
    Every year we thought, will this be his last Easter?
    Will this be his last birthday?
    Will this be his last Father’s Day?
    And will this be his last Christmas?
    The waiting and never knowing was agonising
    We were living in a limbo that never seemed to end
    At the start we made the most of seeing you as best we could.
    We made the most of trying to ensure you got to do the things you’d always wanted.
    But time kept passing and we couldn’t keep stalling our lives
    We all had to get on, keep doing the things we were and try and return to normalcy
    It was so hard leaving you, not knowing when circumstances would change
    As each day went by the butterfly ate at you more
    You became someone I hardly recognised, but still held dearly in my heart
    The end of 2021 saw you grow frail and quiet
    The butterfly gnawing on your memory, thoughts and dreams
    You’d always recovered from your falls and accidents, you always pulled through
    Until the day I got the call that this time you wouldn’t be able to
    You were in the ER and I came to you, sitting with you for hours
    You’d fallen and had a heart attack, your skin ravaged across your arms and legs
    You were in hospital for months, and I visited you every week
    You would look out your window every day, wanting to go outside
    When we talked you spoke of home, but didn’t know here home was
    You couldn’t recognise names, places or photos
    Every now and the. You asked where I was, even though I was by your side
    Every time I saw you, you asked me to take you home
    You asked me not to leave, but I always had to go
    You’d cry when I hugged you, and told you I loved you
    You always asked when I would be back, and I always promised tomorrow
    Hoping time would pass and you wouldn’t feel alone
    We were only allowed up once a week, but nurses called me to come more
    They told me you would cry for me, and wouldn’t settle until I was there
    Every time I saw you, you had your bags packed ready to go
    You would rifle through my handbag and muck around with my keys
    Asked where I’d parked and ask me to point out the window
    You watched the people below and said how they were free to go anywhere
    And you’d look at me with sad eyes and ask when we’re leaving
    Boxing Day was the last time I saw you awake and alert
    You were no longer the father I grew up with
    You rarely laughed, you rarely smiled
    More than anything I remember your tearful eyes
    January saw you moved to a hospital closer to home
    And not once was I allowed to visit you there
    They treated you so poorly, refusing to shower and care for you
    They gave you scant meals and blocked your access to bathrooms
    They placed you in a bed under a power board so cords were hung above your head
    You were stripped of dignity by cruel nurses who’ve forgotten compassion
    We moved you into aged care, at the age of 65
    And by this point you were declining so fast I was afraid to see you
    I wasted my time worrying about how hard it would be, that I failed to be there for you
    In my head I still believed you’d recover and somehow pull through
    I believed we would have more time, you’d always been so stubborn
    Five years you suffered, yet I wasn’t ready to let go
    By the time I gathered the courage to see you again, I felt it was too late
    You slept throughout the whole visit that Monday, sedated to manage your pain
    You held the small fluffy monkey in your grasp, even in your sleep
    Feeling helpless I tucked you in your sheets, and held your hand
    I thought I’d be able to come again next week, hoping you’d be awake
    Until a call came in late Friday night telling us to come
    We got there, and you’d started to rattle
    Your breathing was heavy and wet, your skin pale
    Your hands were cool to touch, your feet were turning blue
    You’re chest was heaving with every effort and your eyes started to weep
    We sat by your side for hours, too terrified to leave
    Every stall in your breath was agonising
    Every tear that slipped down your face we felt
    The cooler your hands got the more terrified I became
    They always say a death rattle is confronting, but until you live it you can’t imagine
    I thought if I looked away from you for even a second you’d be gone
    I wouldn’t have been there for you when you needed it most
    The staff said often people hold on until their loved ones leave
    And so we left in the morning, hoping not to prolong your pain
    And barely a few hours later they called, and you were gone
    Missing your passing hurt
    If only I’d seen you sooner
    If only I’d visited you more
    If only I gave you more time over the years
    If only I could’ve done anything to ease your pain and suffering
    If only I’d been there to hold your hand as you passed
    I think of all the things you’ll never get to see, never get to hear
    You’ll never see my marriage
    You’ll never grow old and retire
    You’ll never get to have grandkids to look after on weekends
    We’ll never go to bookstores together again like we did when I was a kid
    We’ll never go camping on the beach with the boat and fish at night
    We’ll never watch movies together or play cards
    I miss you every day, and I see you in all the small things I never thought twice about
    I can’t look at minties and gingernuts without thinking of you at the grocery store
    I can’t drive your ute without seeing you there with me beside me
    I can’t look at your chair by the back door without picturing you sitting in the sun
    I’m grateful your suffering is at an end and you’re free from the burden of illness

Viewing 9 replies - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)
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  • #21364
    onlinecommunity
    Keymaster

    Dear @cnma,

    I have read your beautiful eulogy in memory of your Dad. Thank you for sharing it with us here. It is so heartfelt yet so heartbreaking. A stunning tribute for your Dad.

    As I read it I was struck by the incredible bond you seemed to have with your father, and the love you gave him right throughout his illness. I was also struck by your sense of remorse or perhaps guilt for not doing enough. And yet from an outsiders point of view it really seems you did the very best you or anyone could. I see the many different ways you supported and cared for him along his journey and I have no doubt your Dad felt assured of your deep and enduring love for him at the time of his passing.

    Supporting a loved one with a terminal illness brings with it so much stress and heartache. Your grief journey starts with anticipatory grief which is so very difficult – you are grieving the person you once knew while at the same time faced with a looming dread that they may past soon. Now that he has gone you may have moved into acute grief. Its a long and arduous process so we hope you are practicing self-compassion. Talk to yourself as you would someone else going through your pain. Be kind and gentle on yourself. This article on ways to cope with grief may provide some coping strategies for you.

    Coping with Grief

    I also thought you might relate to this discussion on our Helping Hand forum which explores guilt in grief. Often the bereaved will use guilt as a tool in their grief response because it is something they can have a sense of control over; https://griefline.org.au/online-forums/topic/feelings-of-guilt/

    From reading your tribute it seems that writing may be a coping strategy you are already using, so we hope that you will continue to write here on the forums. We are here for you. 🌸

    #21367
    VM- cookie
    Participant

    Dear @cnma,
    Thank you for sharing your writing about your Dad- it was extremely powerful. From reading your post, it seems like you feel sadness and guilt at the loss of your Dad, and at the same time, you are grateful that he is no longer suffering. I just want to say that its normal to feel this- and that your feelings are completely valid.

    I’m wondering if you would like to share more about how you’ve been coping with the loss of your Dad? We are all here to support you, feel free to reach out on the forums, or call Griefline (1300 845 745) from 6am to 12am AEDT.

    Take care.

    #21410
    cnma
    Participant

    Thank you for the kind and compassionate responses. It took me a long time to post here, I even thought maybe I had the grieving process under wraps – when really I’d mainly compartmentalised it just so I could get through my masters semester at university. It was definitely hard having that anticipatory grief – I actually remember thinking and saying “I feel like I’m grieving even though he’s still right here”. I thought I’d be prepared for it, but I was completely wrong. You can’t fathom the loss until it happens, no matter how much time you’re given.
    I think getting to see him right near the very end helped me process the reality of his passing quicker, the finality of it.
    Some days I feel like I’m coping well, I’ll remember moments of joy we had – and other days I’ll see his favourite tea pot on the bench and fall apart.
    His passing definitely changed how I saw things. More than anything, it made me realise how precious our time is and we can never know what the future will hold.
    Every moment we have is a blessing. It also helped me recognise what is important to me in life. It’s spurring me to do the things I’ve been putting off, or waiting until “I’m older”.
    That not to say there haven’t been bad days.
    We all know there are days where everything seems senseless and cruel. We feel that the universe is against us and forcing our suffering. It makes everything seem pointless – because what’s the point of anything if we may die in the next moment? What is the point of our effort and hard work if we may not live to see it?
    I don’t ever expect to get over his passing, rather it’s now a part of me.
    I’ve found people tend to move on and forget. They think enough time has passed that you can go back to normal. Many people who haven’t lived to experience death like this don’t recognise it changes you. There is no going back to normal. You instead move forward by building a new world around your experience, rather than sidelining it and “getting over it”
    I will grieve my father all my life, which means loving his memory and acknowledging the difference he made in my world.

    #21416
    teew
    Participant

    Hi @cnma,

    My dad died too, but he is not who I relate to your dad. I relate my grandpa who also passed due to a brain tumour. He did not suffer for years which I am great full for (and sorry to hear that you, your dad and your family did suffer for 5 years) but he still declined much like your dad did. He started forgetting things and not making sense; he was much more emotional than usual, and he was in a lot of pain. It was an awful thing to watch, even though I did not get to see him that often as I was at school, and he was in a hospital 1 hour away.

    I wish I had held his hand more, and been less protective of my own emotions, and focused more on him. But you are right, and we do have to keep living no matter how tough.

    Thank you for writing this.

    #21421
    vmiris
    Participant

    Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful writing about your Dad. There is so so much love in it, and so much of the stuff of grief that humans often carry – the If Onlys and the new Nevers and the Can’t Dos and the triggers and the waves sometimes when we don’t expect them and other times when we know they are coming.

    I also found your follow up response comment very poignant – the new awareness grief can give us in learning to live now and about how very precious time is. Your piece of writing is a gift to all of us readers, and I hope it provided you with some comfort, clarity and peace. Sounds like your Dad and you were lucky to have each other and I hope it helps you if you feel his continuing presence in your life or whatever else comforts you.

    Thanks again for your beautiful post,

    Take care.

    #21672
    staffygirl
    Participant

    Dear @cnma, I just read your post, and it has me in tears. It hit close to home for me and I feel your pain. Thank you for writing it.

    #22149
    cnma
    Participant

    Dear @teew
    I’m sorry I’ve been slow to respond. I became really unwell for some time there, to be honest I’m still not going well.
    I’m sorry to hear of your father and pa’s passing. I lost my grandpa to cancer also.
    I understand your pain. I avoided seeing my father initially out of fear that I wouldn’t cope. That must’ve been hard that you were not able to see him often, especially being in school. Even now I wish I’d held my dad’s hand more too, that I’d sat with him for longer. Even though brain tumours can make them confused and impact their memory, I’m sure your pa would’ve cherished every moment he had with you. I know my dad did, right up until the end. Protecting your own emotions is something you must’ve needed at the time and I think many of us can relate to that. I think regret is something that will often come up, but it gets easier with time, and some days re better than others. It sounds like you did the best you could in a really tough situation.
    It’s coming up to Father’s Day and my dads first birthday since he has passed. It’s been on my mind a lot, which is why I found myself back on this forum. I was honestly going to just pretend this Sunday was the same as every other day and not celebrate. But now I’m realising that isn’t honouring or celebrating his memory, it’s avoiding the reality of him being gone.
    I wish you all the best on your navigation of grief ❤️

    #22150
    cnma
    Participant

    Dear @vmiris
    Thank you for your post, writing is something that initially I thought of as an outlet. It definitely serves that purpose, but now I’m starting to realise it’s a space where we can explore that grief too.
    I’ve found writing down memories really helpful, because they often crop up unexpectedly. This morning I had honey on toast for the first time in years, and in the first bite I could picture making honey joys for my Dad or his birthday. I could be cutting up tomato’s, and I can see him spreading tomato seeds on paper towel to dry. Things at the time easily taken for granted.
    Small simple happy memories are a beautiful reminder of all the good we had, and I find my memory of things that were bad don’t mean as much to me as they used to.

    #22151
    cnma
    Participant

    Dear @staffygirl
    Thank you ❤️

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