Tuesday, March 31, 2015

So, I have been gone for a while….

Dad on his 77th Birthday at Disney

Dad and the kiddos at Pawley's Island
I have pretty much been living in my own little bubble the past few weeks.  In mid-January, my very healthy-never-been-sick-a-day-in-his-life dad was diagnosed with glioblastoma- a malignant, very aggressive form of brain cancer.  Brain surgery was immediately scheduled for January 29th {his 79th birthday}.  The surgeon said they got most of the tumor and the next step would be chemotherapy and radiation to "get the rest".  After being home a week after surgery he was readmitted to the hospital with low sodium.  He spent a week and a half recovering at CMC-Main.  After that he was removed to CMC Rehabilitation Hospital, where he could get the therapies he would need to help him once he went home.  He also did two weeks of radiation.  Chemo was off the table because the doctors did not feel that he was strong for chemotherapy as that time.  After 3 weeks of rehab he got released and went to stay with my sister,  Madeline and her husband.  Dad was so excited to be out of the hospital and at my sister's home.  It was great for me because I could take the Jackson, Nat and Hollins to visit him.  There was a restriction at the rehab facility preventing anyone under the age of 18 visiting.  Dad was comfortable, seemed more like himself than he had since he got sick.  We met with his radiation oncologist who gave him 6 months {or more, he said} to live.  That did not come a surprise to us.  Brain cancer is an ugly, awful, debilitating disease.  Back in the fall, Allen and I had planned a trip to Disney World for the kids.  Dad was comfortable at Madeline and Dave's.  He wanted us to go on our trip.  He was even excited that we were going!  He talked about it constantly.  So, Wednesday night March 11th, I went over to tell him goodbye and that I would see him when we got back the following Monday.  Thursday morning March 12th, Allen, the kids and I flew down to Orlando.  As soon as I got off the plane I had a call from my sister that I will never, ever forget.  She said "Dad's dying."  The part of me that demands answers constantly couldn't wrap my mind around it…. WHAT?!?! WHY!?! WHAT HAPPENED?!?! He was fine last night when I was over, he ate breakfast this morning, the doctors said 6 months or more a week ago….  Why was this happening?  I would have never gotten on a plane or gone on vacation had I known.  Madeline said that she didn't even know if I could get back in time.  I was paralyzed.  We got to our hotel I just sat there on the bed wondering what to do.  The kids did not know anything was going on- they were dying to go to Magic Kingdom as we had promised them.  So that is what we did. I had no sooner walked into the park when my sister called Allen. From the look on his face, I knew.  Dad was gone.  I didn't want the kids to know so luckily I was wearing good sunglasses.  They couldn't see the tears and they were so distracted and mesmerized by the Magic of Disney.  That part was a blessing.  
My best friends were beyond amazing.  Actually, amazing does not even begin to describe what they have done for me and my family.  While I was on an airplane, they sat with my sister as my father died.    They planned the reception at my home after my father's memorial service.  They constantly check in with me or Allen to see how we are hanging in there. I have no idea what I will ever be able to do to repay them.  In additional to Allen and my my children, they truly are my gifts from God.  I am so, so blessed to have them.
 I go through most of the stages of grief everyday.  Mornings usually start out with shock~ I can't believe someone that was such a fixture in my life everyday for 36 years is not here anymore.  Before now, I could pick up the phone any day, any time and he would answer and be there for me no matter what.  Then I move on to anger, guilt, pain, loneliness, depression and hope.  The anger and guilt part stems a lot from the fact that I was not there when he died.  I should have been.  That is something I desperately would like to change.  I would like that one last time to say goodbye and to tell him that I love him.  I was with my mom when she died six and half years ago and had planned to be there with dad. The hope comes when I remember that he is now reunited with my mom and that dad did not suffer long at all.  That would have been worse.  That was yet another blessing.

Me & Dad on Father's Day
The other thoughts have been settling in more and more.  I am now an orphan.  Both of my parents are gone.  As a parent I finally understand why parents worry so much.  Mine worried constantly about me.  Now there was no one left to worry about me.  There would be no more beach trips with my dad to Pawley's Island.  No more holidays, birthdays etc…  He would come over every afternoon to keep Hollins while I picked up the boys.  We would sit and talk about what was new with the kids, me, Allen, his friends etc…  I pray that my kids will remember him and his sweet face and happy demeanor.  I will remind them of how much he loved and adored them.  They will be in charge of telling my sister's children all about my dad- his love of football, NASCAR and the beach.  He always told us that he loved us but in the last few weeks he said it even more.  Dad knew how important that was to say and to hear.
Dad & Jackson
Dad & Nat
Dad & Hollins
Hold your loved ones close every chance you get.  Tell them you love them constantly.  Live every day as if it could be your last.  Life is short and can change in an instant.

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