Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Waiting.


For the past two years since my Dad was diagnosed, it's been a lot of waiting. My Mom would often say that cancer is mainly "hurry up and wait," because you're waiting for answers, waiting for treatment, waiting for doctors, nurses, people to tell you what to do and how to do it. And then later on, when we knew there wasn't much else we could do, we waited to say goodbye.

I'm not sure which is worse, watching a loved one suffer through pain and agony, or losing someone suddenly. I'm still not sure.

The last time I saw my father was a day and a half before he passed away. Hank was out of town, so I had to head back home with my kids, and planned to come back down Sunday to stay the next week with my parents.

I was well aware that every time I said goodbye to my father it may be the last. This wasn't our first rodeo. Over the years my Dad had been in and out of the hospital for various things, usually heart-related, so I knew the sadness attached to leaving him while he lay ill. But this time it was different.

The boys said their goodbyes, asking about the snack bags my Dad would always make them. This time there would be no snack bags, as my Dad was bed-bound and could barely grasp a tissue. I had the kids say goodbye, I started the car, put them in, and had my Mom go out with them so I could spend an extra few minutes with my father.

At that point my Dad's voice was barely audible- his words were mumbled and came out in a whisper, and when I leaned in to give him a hug he grabbed my arm and had me look right at him. His blue, watery eyes were piercing. I never remembered them being that blue, and when I had asked him about that the week prior he told me the color was from all the tears he'd been crying- they washed away the hint of green-grey that had always been there.

His bright ocean eyes locked into mine, and his small voice got stronger for a moment.

"I'm not going to see you again."

I told him, oh sure you will Daddy, I'll be back in less than 48 hours. He shook his head like a small child would and told me again, no, no you won't.

He asked me then to give him a long hug, and if I would lay my head on his chest.

It must have been just a few minutes but it felt longer. I tried to take it all in- I imagined I was 3 again laying on my father's chest. He was big and strong and nothing could hurt him. He was invincible. I closed my eyes as the tears squeezed out of the corners but still I didn't move. I didn't wipe them away. I remembered being tiny and young and I allowed memories to quickly wash over me, my thoughts bobbing up and down in the waves, old forgotten things coming to the surface.

The beach in New Jersey. Sandy peanut butter and jellies. My Dad holding me up in the water, the sunlight in my eyes. Apple cider and donuts, pumpkin patches and scarecrows. Riding in the car on the highway, picking up Chinese food and cardboard boxes of water. Suitcases and big windows and waving goodbye. Switlik Elementary and Wawa subs and soccer practices. Bright white thoughts rolling in and out as I lay there listening to his labored breaths.

I was 3 years old and my Dad was strong. I was safe and nothing could hurt him. We had our whole lives ahead of us.

Except we didn't.

I got up and kissed my Dad's cheek, his head, his hand. I said goodbye and I really believed Sunday would come and I would be able to have another goodbye. His eyes told me differently though, and as I walked out the door and looked back, he turned his head into his pillow. I could hear him softly crying.

When my Mom called me Sunday morning and told me my Dad has passed away in his sleep there was a deep, hollow ache that began to grow. A pit in my stomach I could feel in my throat. It was hard to swallow. Now two weeks later it's still there, a part of me now. If I stay busy I forget about it, but the moment I'm alone with my thoughts I remember, and I can feel it.

I miss my Dad terribly. I know it won't ever go away, and even just two weeks later I can see all of these spaces where he should be.

So now I am waiting again. I wait for the moments I can feel him, in the cool breeze before the sun goes down, or the sound of the wind in the trees. I wait until it's late and everyone is asleep, and I can look up at the ceiling and talk to him. I wait to go on walks in the morning and long runs at night, and listen to his favorite songs and remember all of the things he loved.

I read somewhere your grief never goes away, but your life gets bigger, so your sadness doesn't feel as big.

I miss you, Dad.

“You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.” — Anne Lamott

29 comments:

  1. Beautiful tribute to your Dad.

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  2. This is so beautiful & tears are streaming down my face. Know he's always with you ♥️

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  3. This is a lovely tribute Danielle. I am so sorry for your loss, after losing my dad,mom,sister and husband in the past few years I can tell you it does get easier with time. It's part of life and you just enjoy the loved ones you have even more. With love and sympathy,Suzy

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  4. Wow Dani. So beautifully said. It’s been 6 years since my dad passed suddenly and I too, have wondered if it would have been harder to watch him suffer, or if the agony of never getting a chance to say goodbye is more painful. Those holes are always there, but I’ve learned to fill them with memories... even when it hurts. One foot in front of the other. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

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  5. Sending so much healing love.x

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  6. I don’t know you or your family, but I’ve been following tour blog since you had Henry. I recently just had my first baby, and as I sat here rocking her and reading your tribute, I cried my eyes out. Just a very beautiful, touching reminder of how brief life is.

    And I’m so sorry for your loss.

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  7. Hugs to you. I lost my mom 6 years ago to cancer.. 4 months after I suddenly lost my aunt to a heart attack. There is no good way to lose someone... with my aunt, I never got to say goodbye, tell her how much she meant to me. With my mom, I got to say it all but watching her deteriorate and be in pain day in day out, changed me at my core. You are right, the pain does not go away. It manifests itself differently over time and sometimes catches you off guard or at odd times... sometimes it's a song, sometimes it's a smell.... milestones with my kids are very hard knowing that she would love to see them grow... I like to see that she is seeing it and getting a kick of just how much like her I am even tough I always swore that I would be different.

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  8. Literally in tears. So beautifully written. I'm so sorry for your loss.

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  9. This was so moving. I’m so sorry for you loss. 💔

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  10. So beautifully written Dani. This brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for continuing to share your writing on this blog.
    And so sorry for the loss of your father.
    Elisabeth

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  11. I'm with you in your pain! I can't imagine how hard everything is. But feel fortunate for all the moments and love you were able to share. That's most than some people can ever dream.

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  12. There’s a sweet children’s book called “That’s Me Loving You” and it brings me so much comfort to remember the words when I feel the ache of missing someone I’ve lost.

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  13. I’m so sorry to read about the passing of your father. I lost my mom 17 months ago. I made my way to Colorado and I had to head back to Texas to finish packing up my apartment to move to Kansas City I was gonna come right back. I had never hurried something like this before in my life but at 2am I got the call from my brother that she was gone. Cherish your goodbye. I try everyday to remember every phone call, every word. I remember when I left her in her hospital room her saying goodbye to me for the first time in my adult life with no tears but just a good bye, I love you, and blew me a kiss. I can’t express to you how much I miss her. I’m sure you understand. Their is a small amount of peace in the lack of suffering they are going through but I do wish she was still here. My thoughts are with you and your family. You wrote such a beautiful real tribute to him. I can tell he was so sad to have to go. -Crystal

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  14. Thank you for sharing and trusting us with such heartbreakingly beautiful and poignantly written post x

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  15. Beautiful words of your beautiful father from his beautiful daughter.

    Judy Thompson

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  16. Beautiful tribute & hugs to you Dani!! I haven’t lost either of my parents, but have lost a very Special brother 25 years ago. I have to say it does get a little easier to move on but we, his family talk about him & think of him always!!! He passed away when my children were in elementary school and now our grandchildren know about their special great uncle and the wonderful person he was. Never stop talking about your Dad with your children and the wonderful memories you have of him, they will always remember the wonderful times they had with their grandfather and you & Hank with your Father!! Share the memories!! Hugs to you!! ��

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  17. Thank you for sharing this with us, it's such a beautifully written piece and does so much to paint a picture of your dad, your love for your dad, his love for you. Sending you all the very best <3

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  18. I'm so so so sorry...my heart aches with you. Both of my parents died suddenly, and way too soon...and I still struggle to get over feeling like an 47 year old orphan. But God does find a way to fill the void, and he holds me when the emotions are too overwhelming. I'll be praying over you and your precious family...sending love and peace. xo

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  19. My Dad died of cancer two years ago. I saw him the week before, and hugged him and told him I loved him. When I spoke to him 3 days later on the phone, I wondered if I would talk to him again, and it was a hard and sadgoodbye. I did get to see him on his final day, and kiss him, hold his hand and tell him how much I loved him and thanked him for being loving us our whole lives.

    I think though that for some time it takes your heart some time to heal. For most of us we are deeply traumatized by the dying , the goodbye is hard, and the it is difficult to remember them without crying. Now though I don't often cry, when I think of my dad I remember the love, the good times and the great life he had and the fun times we shared. I think now that I was lucky to be able to help my dad in the last few weeks of his life. Just as our parents helped us as babies and children, it is a gift to be able to help them on this final journey.

    Julie

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  20. Such a beautiful and touching tribute to your father. My papa (who raised me like I was his child) died suddenly 12 years ago and I still miss him terribly but he will always live on in my memories and photos.

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  21. This was beautifully written and touching, Dani. That moment of goodbye you wrote about with him paired with the photo above just has me in tears. I'm so sorry for your loss, and for all of your family as you grieve. Thinking of you. ❤️

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  22. My heart breaks over this. I needed this reminder. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  23. My heart is so broken for you, friend. This was so beautifully written.

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  24. Dani, I've been following your blog for a couple of years now. I'm so so sorry for your loss. I lost my dad about 2 months ago.. it was sudden and unexpected. I understand you questioning what is worse, seeing someone suffer and knowing what will come or losing someone suddenly.. I ask myself the same question and I dont know. I am happy for you that you had that long hug with your father, and that he was so open to share with you his feelings.. and that you could feel like that little girl again, protected by her dad. The last moment you have with someone is so important. I hope you find comfort in the good memories together with your loved ones. Wishing you all the best x

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  25. I find it interesting, your dad knowing that it was the last time he'd see you. My dad told my mom, the week he died, that after Friday she wouldn't have to worry about him anymore. He died Friday. Life is mysterious, but I strongly believe your dad will never leave you ❤️

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  26. Thank you for sharing this. You are so eloquent. As I am suffering with grief from losing my grandparents, I really appreciated reading this. It's what I have been thinking but am not as good of a writer to say. Prayers to you and your family.

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  27. This really hit home for me. I lost my Dad 3 years ago this past April. I miss him tremendously. It’s a loss that I’ve never felt before in all my life. What I wouldn’t give to have him back. To sit and talk with him. Laugh. Tell funny stories. To have him see my kids grow up. To meet his last grandchild. So many things that can never be anymore. I know he’s still around. I sometimes smell his cologne out of nowhere. On the anniversary of his passing I was in my car alone going to grab some food for dinner and I thought gee, I would’ve thought today of all days he would’ve given me a sign. At that moment his favorite song came on the radio. I started crying and pulled over. He was there. He’s always there. Your Dad too is always there.

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  28. Beautiful. Heart breaking. Hugs to you and your family.

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  29. My heart is breaking for you and I'm crying tears for your family. Keeping you all in my thoughts during this difficult time.

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