Saturday, April 23, 2011

My Daddy Died Last Week.

Only 7 weeks after his first visit to Urgent Care. He thought he'd pulled a muscle, but it wasn't going away. He asked my mom to take him up to Urgent Care. That doctor could tell right away, just from feeling around his abdomen, that Dad's liver was enlarged. (what?!?) So they ordered a CT scan which showed tumors in his liver. They had to order a 2nd CT scan because the first had not scanned his lungs, and he smoked since he was like 14 or something. That scan actually came back clear. Next was the liver biopsy and subsequent colonoscopy and biopsy of the colon. Liver came back cancer, but somehow not technically Liver Cancer. We began planning under the assumption that his history of Crohn's disease would lead us to colon cancer. Believe it or not, aside from a full out miracle, I was praying it was colon cancer, because my understanding is that colon cancer responds very well to treatment, and liver cancer does not. We saw the oncologist, set up appts to start treatments, and the next day cancelled it all because the colon biopsies came back negative for cancer.

Then we were referred up to UW in Madison to the Gastrointerological Oncology department. They reviewed Dad's tests and scans etc. We met with a surgeon who told us the tumors make surgery not feasible because there wouldn't be enough healthy liver left over. They even showed us the CT scan of his liver. No less than 3/4 of it was tumors, and that was to my not-medically-trained eyes. Then we met with a Chemo doctor (didn't know you could actually specialize in that) and she was very compassionate and careful in what she said, but she told us that chemo might buy us time, and it would only buy us months. Two weeks and one day later he was gone. He passed at home. Surrounded by family. Daughters holding his hands. Family praying the rosary. Leaving peacefully. We said what we wanted to say before The Strong Drugs took full effect. The priest was there to administer The Sacraments before they took effect. He went directly to Heaven. But I still want him here with us. Healthy. Mowing the lawn. Getting mom's milk. Taking care of His Girls like he always did.

We met with a GI doc early on who said they no longer give time frames on prognosis because they've had patients that they may give a few months and they live 5-6 years. And I thought to myself
"Five years isn't enough!"
We got 5 weeks after that.

I just keep thinking things that sorta don't make sense. Things that everyone who has lost someone they love deeply thinks. Things that everyone knows don't make sense. Things that none of us can change. But somehow, being on this side of the thinking, it feels stupid to even think it.

We're not supposed to be here.

He's not supposed to be gone.

I want My Daddy back.

He's not supposed to be gone.He's not supposed to be gone.He's not supposed to be gone.He's not supposed to be gone.He's not supposed to be gone.He's not supposed to be gone.He's not supposed to be gone.He's not supposed to be gone.He's not supposed to be gone.He's not supposed to be gone.

My Dad was not a Talker. He wasn't a particularly affectionate man. There have been times in my life where I wished he'd been different. Where I'd wish he'd hug me more. I'd wish he'd talk to me about deep and serious things and not just whether or not my oil had been changed recently. And right now, all I want is for him to be sitting in the computer room at their house playing spider solitaire and watching whatever is on cable.

A family friend got married in August. She got to dance with my Dad at her wedding. I have lovely pictures of them. And I catch myself feeling jealous and hoping she realizes how lucky she is to have danced with him, because I won't get to.

I struggled with depression before. I knew what lethargy and apathy were. I knew what it was to not care. I have achieved a whole new level of those in the last week and a half. And I know I have a right to be sad and a right to feel depressed and for today it's ok. But I already wonder how long it will last. What will my home look like if/when I snap out of it. Will people stop checking on me before I make it out the other side. How many nights will I cry alone. How many times will I slip and think of him or talk of him as if he's still here. Do people think it's weird that I don't frame all my conversations about before and after. Do I care of they do. Will I manage to lose some weight through this or will I pack it on with comfort food.

I don't want to do this.

I don't want to be here.

I don't want this to be real.

Do they see it in my eyes? Can people tell something is wrong? What did that girl at TJ Maxx think when I returned the bag and cried because the socks I bought him because his feet were so swollen were on that receipt? Am I phoning it in already? Is it weird that I can go days without crying? Have my neighbors heard my sobbing yet?

I don't want that figurine. I don't want these plants. I don't want the roses. I don't want to think about thank you notes. I DON'T WANT TO DO THIS!!!

Last week as we prepared for the funeral arrangements Mom and I talked. I told her that some people think the last steps of grieving are moving on and getting over it. I said that when it comes to losing a loved one, a person, those are BS. You don't move on, you don't get over it. But you do find a New Normal. She agreed. Later on she told me she decided she was going to make Dad proud of her. She decided she is going to do things and keep going and go to work and visit with people and stuff. And she was going to make him proud of her. And I was proud of her for deciding it.

Tonight I wonder if I'll make him proud. I wonder if I'll find my equilibrium before 2012. I wonder when I'll figure out what New Normal is. Yes, I realize this is all still very fresh and new and grieving is a process and mourning takes time. But when left to my own devices I tend to wallow. I want to mourn and grieve. I keep reminding myself that this is ok. The ugly cry is acceptable. The sobbing without breathing followed by gasping sobs is ok. That standing in my kitchen waiting for the pasta to boil with tears running down my face is ok. I am feeling things, and that's good. I am sad, and that's right. and somehow in spite of that, and my degree in social work and my classes in psychology and having lost a few people in my life ....... somehow none of that prepared me for the depth of grief that floods me. It is so much deeper and stronger and more intense than I expected it to be. And I find myself very glad that I am at home as it washes through me.

Someday. Someday I'll find my equilibrium. Someday it won't be quite so intense. Someday I won't wonder what other people think. Someday I'll realize I have found my New Normal and I'm functioning well again.

But for today I weep.


  1. My heart breaks. :( I love you friend. I'm here whenever and for whatever you need. I'll keep on praying.

  2. Praying for you and your family, Kristine. The pain you are feeling is so evident in your writing. The pen (keyboard) can be very cathartic.

  3. We will keep praying. You should keep writing. Keep asking for help too. We love you.