24 years and months

Twenty four years ago yesterday, my father quietly slipped away.

His illness was fast and furious. Diagnosed over the summer, dead by winter.

He waited for both of his parents to get there, apparently. He held on long enough to say goodbye to his own father.

I remember the day I came home from school. I had been out with friends until dinner time. There were no cell phones back then. My mom was waiting for me when I walked in the door. She had a look on her face. She just shook her head and held her arms out, said she was sorry. I think there were other words but I can’t remember them. I was stunned but it wasn’t quite shock. He was sick, after all. I just didn’t expect it to be so quick. I remember breathing slow and deep, in and out into her embrace, absorbing the news that just changed my life. Then I went upstairs to my room and wept. He was gone. Just like that.

He died just a week before his 50th birthday. I was 16.

As with so many sad anniversaries, yesterday was just another day.

Then I spoke with my mom in the afternoon. I’m sure the day passed her by without notice. Aside from dealing with her own illness, she and my father had both remarried by the time of his death. The date wouldn’t have held significance for her.

It’s no surprise that my mom is not doing well. We had hoped that the last procedure might offer some relief from her worst symptoms, but she feels no improvement. Maybe she’s not getting worse, yet anyway, but she is not getting better.

She is not going to get better.

She is weak and tired. She is frustrated and depressed. At least she is home, finally. And we’re going to visit next week.

She said she spoke with her doctors about potential options. If she can recover some strength, they might recommend chemo in January. Having seen what chemo can do to an already weakened body, she is not inclined to agree. She is concerned about what remaining quality of life she has left.

So she called her local oncologist who she respects and trusts and asked his opinion. She told him that no one has said how long she might have. (I was actually glad to hear this, because I hate when doctors play “god” and presume to be omniscient when clearly they are not. This type of prognosis has such a powerful impact that I don’t think they should throw around words like that when they just don’t know.) While she will continue to be monitored so her doctors can anticipate how she might respond to any potential further treatment, no one has offered a guess as to how long she might live with or without it.

Her local doctor was not happy with her most recent test results, yet told her he doesn’t normally like to give a time. But like me, my mother likes to have as much information as possible before she makes a decision. So she asked his opinion anyway.

Not years, he said. Not days. Maybe months. Weeks.

She thanked him for his honesty and candor. She told me it was sobering but she was grateful to have someone tell her the truth instead of just pushing the next procedure or treatment.

On a completely unrelated note or two, this is my 300th post.

And Baby J cut her first tooth. The Circle of Life continues…


~ by luna on December 5, 2009.

23 Responses to “24 years and months”

  1. Oh, (((Luna))).

    I’m glad your visit is next week.

  2. Thinking of you.

  3. Thank you for sharing that memory of your dad’s anniversary and thank you for sharing your story. You’re inspiring.

  4. Remembering your Father, Luna.

    Just because the circle of life goes around doesn’t always mean it lands somewhere where you need to accept and enjoy it. I’m thinking about your mother, too. I know there’s pressure to “live every day like it’s her/your last!” but sometimes you need to just be, and welcome whatever happens — or doesn’t. You’re all in my thoughts.

  5. Luna, I’m holding you in my heart and sending you love and light. I always want to say that I can’t imagine how hard it is to be facing the loss of your mother just as you are growing into your life as a mother to J, but the truth is I can imagine. And it hurts so terribly. Wishing you comfort and peace.

  6. Hugs

    I’m so sorry you’re going through this.

  7. Thinking of you and sending hugs.

  8. That John Cougar line is going through my head. “Oh yeah, life goes o-on.”

    Which is not to diminish the existence of your father. It just makes me think about what is the purpose of life, why are we here, why do people get sick, what is that miracle of teeth coming in.

    I am abiding with you as you remember your father, and as you support your mother, and as you usher your daughter into the world of chewing.

    Oh yeah.

  9. Thinking of you Luna, as you remember your Dad and as you prepare for the next part of the journey with your mom. I hope she has more time than expected and that is filled with loved ones and friends and no pain.

  10. I’m really sorry, Luna. You are much too young to soon have 2 parent loss anniversaries. I’m sorry for you, baby J, your mom and all who know her. Many hugs.

  11. My heart is with you as you move through all these overlapping circles of life–some filled currently with happiness and some with sadness, and all encircling your heart.

  12. Oh my goodness, I am just so sorry. At the same time, I’m so proud of your mom for asking the question, and the doctor for giving his opinion – sobering though it may be. She is here with you now, and your baby will always have had her in her life. Loss is…well loss. There’s no other word that really sums it up well. We all have to deal with it, yet it’s such a remarkably individual and profoundly altering experience. I’m here as you need to walk with you through it.

  13. Oh my word. I didn’t know you had lost your father so young, and I hadn’t realised how ill your mother was. You write it so beautifully but this must be such a difficult time. I am sorry. I’m glad for the tooth and that you have both parts of the cycle of life, although I wish it could just have been the tooth.

  14. You are dealing with so much, and at what’s a busy & emotion-laden & stressful time of year at the best of times. Thoughts, prayers & virtual (((hugs))) to you!

  15. I’m sorry for your loss and your mom’s continued struggle 😦 *hug*

    My dad died when he was 49 too. I was older but my little sister was 16. I just can’t get over the fact that that is just so horribly young to lose your dad.

  16. I’m sorry for your loss, and the hard time that you are going through right now. I’m glad you’ll have a visit next week and as much as I’m sure it will be bittersweet, I hope that you do have some joyful times and good memories made for baby J. Thinking of you.

  17. I wouldn’t be surprised if your mother still remembers that day. Just reading about it brings tears to my eyes.

    I’m so glad she’s home, where she belongs. It must be such a relief, especially as she sounds like someone who needs both privacy and dignity (though I guess we all do, don’t we?). But mostly I’m glad you’re finally going to be able to go visit. I can’t know what you’re going through, but I’m certain that being there will be so much better. And for her to get to spend quality time with her granddaughter–you couldn’t give her a better gift.

    Life is brutal, isn’t it? And yet still so worth living. I’ll be thinking about you in the upcoming weeks.

  18. Thinking of you…the cycle of life can be so bittersweet.

  19. You write so beautifully and your honesty and pain come through. I’m so very sorry and I hope your visit with your mom is wonderful for all of you.

  20. Oh luna, I’m just hurting for you.

  21. Sorry Luna.

    Sitting beside you with my head low. Sigh.

    Holding your hand from a long way a way.

    love B

  22. Tears. Hugs.

  23. […] The day he died I lost a part of my innocence forever. […]

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