Written on January 14, 2016 (13 days before)
“Love is watching someone die.”
Heads up: this post is coming to you straight from Bummerville.
I’ve meant to write so many times in the last couple weeks, but I couldn’t really bring myself to open my laptop and write the first sentence. So here goes.
Dad is dying. I know, technically he’s been dying for a while. Technically we’re all dying. Right now, though…it seems imminent.
On December 11, Greg and Nancy had their annual Christmas party. Dad was tired. I sat by him. Bev would go fill his plate, and it was obvious that he didn’t have a lot of energy to run around the house, but he was there and aware and talking and mostly being himself.
On December 25, Dad slept for most of the day. Bev wasn’t there. In hindsight maybe I should have been more…helpful? But I didn’t want to make him feel like I was babying him. Throughout this whole process, I’ve tried to treat him the same as always, with the occasional health question thrown in. Anyway, he was tired, and he was in pain, but when he was awake, he was mostly the same as usual. Standing for a picture was difficult, and he was shaking the whole time, but he did it. I kind of hated making him stand for a picture, but at the same time, I needed it. I won’t apologize for needing it.
The next couple weeks, he looked bad. Way worse than Christmas. He fell asleep a lot, but he still asked us questions and talked to us about as much as usual.
The last thing I remember him saying clearly—I think this was the day after Jaz left—was in response to me saying I’d be back to see him soon. He said, “Please do. Your daddy’s wasting away.”
He also thanked me for checking on him (I don’t remember when he said that, but I’m cataloging as many of his words as I can.)
I am heartbroken. The next time I came to see him—maybe a couple days later—he could barely speak. I don’t know if he’s just too tired to talk or if the pain medicine is fogging his brain or what, but about 99 percent of his words come out as an unintelligible mumble. I try to talk to him as much as I can, but it is hard, because he’ll mumble back to something I’ve said, and I can’t tell if he’s really trying to engage in conversation or if he’s just kind of out of it. And I don’t want to talk over him if he is trying to say something, but I don’t want to constantly ask him what he said either.
Every once in a while, he’ll say something that comes out fairly clearly. I think it takes a lot of effort, so I’m going to store the memories and be thankful for them.
One night, after I helped him adjust his cannula, he mumbled, and when I didn’t respond, he turned to me and said, “Thank you.”
Last night, Bev and Greg helped him walk to his bed so he could go to sleep. I sat beside him and kissed him on the cheek and told him I love him. I’m trying to never let a day go by without telling him I love him. He replied, “I love you,” and then I think he was scared that I didn’t hear or understand him, because he said it again, louder, and that time I replied, “I love you too.” And then I left.
More than anything, I want him to know that I love him, but I also recognize that it’s important for him to know that I heard him, and that he loves me too. I’m trying to be there, but it’s hard to watch him die. It’s hard to watch him waste away. I don’t know what his last words to me will be, and I don’t know if I’ll understand them, so starting now, I’m keeping track of the ones I do understand.
I’m carrying those words with me wherever I go.