Dad's Final Month - Part 1
Over the next few days / week, I will be publishing a series of posts that document Dad's last month with us... I wrote this up last week, and it is more for my family and myself, so we don't forget all those little details.
But be aware that my posts are going to be very single-focused over the next little while, and I am not going to apologise... this is how I work through things, I write; always have, and quite likely always will. I haven't always published them online admittedly - but times are changing. I also believe that grief is something everyone will have to endure at some stage in their lives, and while everyone works through things differently, there are still certain steps we all take as we weave our way through this unfamiliar territory.
So this is also for those who have lost a loved one - a parent in particular... I know my journey is not the same as yours,, but we have both loved and lost a little bit of our heart. And while I don't dare dream of saying "I understand how you're feeling right now", I can say, "Let me walk beside you and share a bit of my story, as we both share elements that will tie us together in this valley".
So here is Part 1 of my story; my journey. This is not even my brothers, or my Mothers journey - it is MY journey, and I own it all. While the dates and the facts are all correct - the feelings that surround it are all mine, and mine alone:
It's been a month since we said goodbye already; and I still don't know how we did it...
I regularly question how I get up each day and just carry on with life, like nothing has happened, and yet my whole world has changed.
I still don't understand how we went from a 'whole family' to a 'broken family'; and yet looking back and I can see just how sick and tired you were looking. I think it is astonishing how we can get used to changes so quickly, I looked back on some older photos of you tonight; still recent, but not...
This was October 2016, literally days after
the awful terminal cancer diagnosis had been given.
Making memories - Christmas 2016.
Still enjoying life as much as possible
Less than a month before you left us.
What a dramatic difference, and yet I was in denial at how quickly you were deteriorating... it's not until I look back like this and I can see with wide-open eyes, just how quickly this horrid disease was taking you.
If only we had known...
I want to document that last month we had with you, before I forget; I don't want to forget the mammoth effort you made for us, nor do I want to my kids or myself to forget these last precious days.
On Friday 7th April 2017 I left work early and met you, Mum and Andrew up at our Doctors - Waikato Hospital had declined to treat you three times, and we were getting angry and wanted some answers. They were saying you were too frail for any further medical procedures, and yet we felt you were holding up well and could handle what we were asking for. You weren't keeping anything down - you'd already been in twice since February for a stent followed by a second stent procedure (clean up and widening), but nothing had improved (for those unaware of the history - Dad had esophagus cancer, and thus had come to the point the cancer was enlarged enough to stop him from swallowing; at that point the next step was to place a stent down his esophagus to enable him to get vital nutrients, but it was all through mushy food from then on)... so we were now asking for a feeding tube to go directly into your stomach or a nasogastric tube, to enable you to get the nutrients you so desperately needed. You were losing weight rapidly, and constantly dehydrated - there had been numerous trips up to the local ED to hydrate you for 24-48 hours over this time, as often you couldn't even keep water down.
By this stage I was coming and having lunch with you and Mum 1-2 times a week during my lunch break at work, as our weekly Saturday night family dinners had been put on hold. We were also popping over as regularly as you could handle, with the kids - to try and make as many memories as possible, they are only young but they knew what was going on. We all knew by then that time was limited, but we weren't to know just how limited... and as you were getting sicker and more tired, you also weren't handling having them around for any length of time; although you were so patient even to the end, and LOVED seeing them.
The day after that Doctor's visit was my son's 5th birthday party - we knew you would come, but only expected you to pop in for half an hour or so; but you were a stubborn old man and determined to make it right through, and so you did, lasting the entire two hours. This we know now, was a massive act of love for ‘your’ boy - and I see this as the beginning of the end; it's like you expended all your energy on the party, and then your body started shutting down. I will be forever grateful you made this effort for him, I understand just what a huge sacrifice it was - even then I was beyond impressed, but now with hindsight I can see even more what a mammoth effort you went to for him. I will make sure he grows up knowing just how loved he was by his Pop-Pop, and how treasured this memory is.
Me and Dad at Asher's party...