Tag Archives: sarcoma

The end of March.

Memories drift by in my mind of times when you weren’t sick. I look at myself then and want to grab me by the shoulders and yell what the future holds. To warn myself. Not that it’d do any good. Regardless, you’re gone now and I can’t talk to you anymore, I can’t hug you anymore. It causes me ceaseless pain and great sadness. What am I supposed to do with these feelings?

You took in a boy and made him your own and I didn’t make it easy on you at all. I regret that even though I know you hold no grudge against me for it.

I wake up most mornings and feel so empty. I don’t like it, I detest it. Where are you now? What do you see? Do you have a routine? What’s it like when you look in on us and see that we are still so deeply grieving you? How are you more alive than you’ve ever been -what does that mean?

When we spoke, you told me you believed in me and knew I would fly high with my new career, my passion and yet I’m still fumbling to make ends meet. I give 100% every day and success still evades me. Am I being impatient? What would you say? I refuse to quit, I told myself when I flew out for basic training in Cleveland that there’s no turning back, that even if things didn’t go as I imagined I would I find a way to maintain until I hit my flashpoint and catapult forward as a professional dog trainer. I told you that, too. I thought of you when I graduated on March 29th and I truly felt like a superhero when I put on my uniform. I still do. But without you here I feel like I’m flying blind.

I remember when mom called me and told me you checked into Eisenhower. March 27th. We thought it was a fungal infection and pinched nerves due to your previous radiation treatments from your first bout with the tumor in your arm. Mom called me later that evening to update me. It was dark outside and tiny snowflakes flurried through the air. I could see my breath. The lights at the training center across the street were still on. She kept telling me the doctors were almost certain it was cancer but were waiting for test results. That I shouldn’t worry just yet. My heart dropped a thousand miles in the blink of an eye and I knew this was it. I knew you were dying. My mind went blank.

I went inside on auto-pilot. Rick, Bret, and Nick asked if I was ok. I lied and said I was fine. I made dinner and went to my room. Little puddles formed at my feet and grew with every tear that fell onto them. I didn’t make a sound but my body trembled and then it shook. I didn’t sleep that night.

The next day I received a picture of you in your hospital bed, spirits bright as always and your food tray in front of you. I know that smile you had on your face didn’t come easily. I felt stuck. I didn’t want to leave my training and put it on hold. No turning back, remember? But I was overwhelmed with the urge to get to California that second to be by your side. To rally the entire family and call them to your side, a loving display of solidarity for the man that bettered this family by being the foundation on which we built our lives.

I’ve never had such trouble focusing before but I knew I had to if I wanted to graduate and become a part of the team. I wanted to focus. I was acting a little different and some of the trainers noticed. Some didn’t. I didn’t want anybody to notice anything. What was I supposed to say if they asked what was wrong? A part of your lung had collapsed and tumors were growing everywhere.

The color orange, concrete, and then a mix of muddy and frozen grass. I had walked from the training center to the outside near the back of the kennel runs. I paced. I spoke with both of my sisters, my brother and my mom. I let my mentor Lorenzo know what was happening and he called me to talk. He offered to fly me out to you. Dad, I want you to know that someone that had never met you and didn’t even know me entirely showed me such generosity and compassion without reserve. It further deepened my commitment to him and the company. It made my chest tighten – I had never been on the receiving end of something like that. It mattered to me.

I thought of you early in the morning as I ran two miles on the morning of my graduation test. March 29th. I mustered every bit of energy I had left to catch up to my mentor as he jogged past me at the tail end of that run. I wanted to impress him, I wanted to show him that even though I was exhausted I could still move, I could work, I could get it done. I find myself in a similar situation now where business is so slow and I’m struggling to keep up with life but I’m still moving. I won’t stand still. One way or another I’m going to make this happen and with the help of my team, be successful. I saw it in your eyes when I talked about professional dog training that you believed me, that I had found what I was looking for. I just wish you were here now to see me through this challenging time.

I stared at the green curtain that hung at the entrance of your room as I approached it, telling myself that this moment is about to happen and will be gone forever. I told myself that every day I was in California. I just wanted you to be healthy again. I wanted you to at least feel Makayla move. It ripped me through to pieces to watch you place your hand on her mother’s belly.

There were many times where we all gathered in that hospital room and filled the halls with our laughter, an unintentional and outward reminder to all that not even the ominous presence of death could break the love that bound us all together. You were a celebrity there, hospital staff not assigned to you would hear about you from their peers and come to meet you. You and ma, Happily Homeless. The greatest love story ever told.

The OxyContin. Terribly powerful and you were on such a high dose. I was there and you were so under it’s influence that you kept forgetting to breathe. You’d jerk and inhale sharply after a few minutes of not breathing, as if your body’s instinct kicked in. Do you remember that night? I sat next to you and calmly breathed with you:

“Breathe in.”

“Breathe out.”

“Good job, pop, great job.”

Over and over. Mom says that kept you alive that night.

The hospital staff put options on the table. Treatment. Likelyhood of survival. Hospice. Hospice…….hospice. We spoke twice before on the phone and you said you wouldn’t give up, that you’d fight this but I believe you said that because I needed to hear it. You wanted to protect us. Then came the day. Early afternoon and the sun was hitting the walls of your room because the blinds were partially closed. I kept staring at you, trying to figure out what you were thinking and feeling as we all discussed the route of hospice with you. I feel like I could tell you preferred to let nature take it’s course but didn’t want to tell us because you wanted to protect us from the heartbreak. We all knew. We closed in around you. Ma was at your side, Rae and boy by your legs. I took your hand and told you we supported and respected your decision to go into hospice. You clutched my hand and have never squeezed it so firmly. Your eyes clouded up and I know you wanted to cry. Boy took a picture of our hands firmly clasped together.

Sometimes I live these memories again and again. They’re terrible, they’re beautiful, they’re many things at once. What were you thinking? You put on such a brave face throughout this period. The handful of times you and I cried together while you were sick were the only times we ever did. I want you back. It’s a foolish thing because I know it will never be but I feel as if I will always have a hole in me that appeared when you left.

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The hollowing path.

Hindsight is not always kind. As time separates my dad and I, the more I realize just what a source of strength his existence was in my life, just knowing he was there. Reachable.

There’s been a deepening sense of sadness and loneliness I’ve felt more and more as time goes on. So far I haven’t been able to shake it. The world seems bigger and emptier. My house feels bigger and emptier. I feel detached from just about everything other than my daughter. I’m still working my hardest at my career every day so I suppose it’s more accurate to say that outside of my mija and dog training, I don’t feel……anything.

He reached out to my mom the other day which made me feel such relief for my mom. My brother and I have been praying for him to find a way to do that since he died and boy did he ever. It does, however make me miss him all the more and reminds me of that. I feel no anger about it anymore, just a deep sense of sadness and defeat. For now, the world seems grey. I wish I could talk with him again, see where he is. I almost feel like I’m flying blindly through life now. I’m sure many men feel this way when their father dies so believe me I’m not asking for pity.

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Of shock and awe.

“He’s gone…”  “He’s gone…”  “He’s gone…”  It repeats every day in my head.  Every night in my dreams.  Every morning it wakes me up.  How can this be?  It’s been almost three weeks since my father died but some days feel so normal, like he will show up in June, ready to accompany the rest of my family to the hospital when Makayla is born.  Other days I feel like I am suspended within a multifaceted tornado made of broken glass where I am not harmed but surrounded by fragmented reflections of myself.  I look closer and ask the shards of reflections, “Who are you?”  “Who were you?”  “Where’s your dad?”  “How could you not have known this would happen?”  Irrational, understandable, panic, and peace throw themselves on top of me like wet blankets and I want nothing to do with any of them.  What do I want?  I want emptiness, a place where I can meet my father, a place that transcends the finite halls that are plagued by mortality and it’s shortcomings so I can say one last goodbye.  I want to feel or see where he is, I want him to tell me that he will watch over us, that he has met his granddaughter.  I want to know what he thinks about her.

My muscles are quivering, these are the aftershocks of shock…..of awe, the remnants of my last desperate reaches and attempts to follow my dad when he took his last breath, foolishly and selfishly demanding that he not leave his family, taxing my intellect and imagination to it’s maximum capacity to create a memory of where he is right now, trying to trick my senses into convincing me that I have touched it and in turn, followed him into the beyond if only for a moment so that I can feel reassured that he still IS.  God, I miss him so much.  Just months before he died, he and I hiked Camelback mountain with my mom.  It’s not an easy hike and he apparently had a tumor in his lung when he did it.  That’s a fucking Iron Man.

Why did he have to die?

It’s fucked up, but I miss and ruminate on the days of Eisenhower Hospital; he was in his last month of life but he and I shared some of the most powerful moments of my life during that period.  I can remember in exquisite detail when I groomed him.  Right before I started, we each made a lame-ass joke to one another and then….we were completely silent from that point forward.  The energy in the room changed as if it snapped to attention.  Time did not stop, but it felt like it slowed down significantly.  The clippers hummed but I was hardly aware of the sound, I heard something else that I cannot explain, I felt something I cannot explain — nor do I have any intention of trying.  It still makes me cry because it was so sublime and…real.  It was cerimonious.

His hair was short and snow white with strands of dark grey.  He was “sweating” his cancer.  He allowed himself to be vulnerable with me and relaxed his head into my palm, allowing me to care for him.  We breathed slowly…synchronously.

I find myself at a loss now, so few words left to type.  Perhaps it is best.  All I will say is that’s the most significant thing I’ve experienced with my dad.  As verbose and exaggerated as this all might sound, I learned more about manhood in that moment than any other in my life, as if it was transferred to me intuitively.

You were a fucking rockstar, pop.

You were a fucking rockstar, pop.

 

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A foreign but promising land.

When I was younger, I often felt frustrated toward others when they did not share my passion for things, dismissing them as apathetic or shallow.  One of my best friends, Brandon, should have little trouble recalling those days, regularly hanging out with a Jesus Freak and pseudo-philosopher that studied anything and everything aside from the ordinary things that most 16-23 year olds enjoy.  I now understand how wrong that was to be so judgmental and dismissive.  A week into grief, into this foreign landscape, finding myself struck with such vivid and lucid visuals that it almost distorts my awareness of the real world, causing me to blankly stare and zone out, I understand that people cannot go where I go.  It is not their journey, the footprints that carve out this path are mine and that is how it should be.

No doubt others have experienced this walk before but I don’t expect others to come with me.  They simply can’t if they haven’t experienced it.  And that’s ok.  I don’t need to hear “I’m sorry”, “Sorry for your loss” or other well intentioned but well-worn phrases, ones that used to anger me because I thought they were a lazy ‘quick fix’ people used to escape the awkwardness or discomfort of a situation — in this case, grief.  I know people mean well and thank you for the support but I know I will be ok, that I will learn from this and change irrevocably because of this.  Grief does not need a cure, indeed there isn’t one.  I don’t need to hear about closure; one of the first things I have noticed a great many people talk about is healing and closure in the aftermath of a tragedy.  Healing and closure will come in due time and I have no interest in rushing either of those.  What is healthy is to fully feel and work through my grief.  Nor is time a cure.  Time can, however, bring perspective, wisdom….growth….laying on a mantle of inner strength and peace, helping me to continue to be open to life.

Sometimes I feel nothing.  Sometimes I cry with intensity that surprises even me.  Other times I feel incredibly optimistic or angry.  Sometimes I feel so sad that I almost cannot breathe.  It’s cyclical and somewhat unpredictable but it’s movement and I’m moving in a generally forward direction.  It’s a kaleidoscope of beauty and ugliness, filled with tests of character vs. habit and learning how to apply what you’ve learned and the impressions left on you by that person in your daily life.  I referenced a light my father kindled in my heart in earlier posts and it was no exaggeration nor was it an attempt to be poetic.  It’s a very literal description, the best I can do to explain his impact on me.  It’s a light that was never fully realized until he was gone, and I think that is the nature of it, it’s the nature of a great mentor’s influence (and blessed am I that I can call him my father).  He was cremated today.

I talk to him everyday.  Perhaps I am talking to nothing.  Perhaps not.  It’s irrelevant to me because in doing so, my memories of my father remain fresh and I feel connected to him.  I only knew him as my dad and I am ok with that.  Others knew him in a different light but I know that all of us may joyfully cite, reminisce, and reflect on common threads that were characteristically consistent in his many relationships with others.  His selflessness.  His compassion.  His optimism.  His discipline and inner strength.  His inner peace.  His humor.  His thirst for adventure.  His honor.  I think it’s uncommon in today’s world that a man possesses honor.  My father did.  Christ, am I so proud of him.  He was not perfect by any means but his spirit shone through regardless of the lens held up to him.  That’s beautiful to me.  That’s something to aspire to, something to achieve in my own way so that at the moment of my own death when asked, “Did you love and were you loved?”  I can answer with a contented and resounding “Yes.”

Dad-entry

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Empty shoes, a beautiful legacy.

He’s gone.  As much as I felt I was prepared for this…..I wasn’t.  Nobody ever is.  There are so many questions flying through my mind at this moment.  The sadness, the anger, the peace, the nostalgia, the feeling of having no control….the fear of having no control.  All of these things vie for supremacy within myself.  This is grief and it is completely natural but it doesn’t make it any easier.  I often intellectualize my emotions.  Is it a coping mechanism?  A world without my dad.  My sister calls this the “new normal”, and sadly….it is.  And it feels anything but normal.

I try to imagine every detail, down to the smallest one of my father’s last days on Earth.  What did he sound like?  Look like?  How would I have reacted to seeing him in such a condition?  My mom is a widow now, and my brother and two sisters no longer have a dad.  He’s dead.  I don’t even know what I believe concerning life after death.  There is no scientific evidence to directly prove it but there are mountains of subjective material shared by those who have been close to death and by people who have been by those close to death.  A few days ago, my dad told my mom that he saw a small child standing in his room with him.  My mom shared it with the hospice staff and they told her that not too long ago, a little boy had died in the same room.

923059_10152251712535400_836129692_nWhat was it like for my dad to have one leg in another world and his other in this one as his body and mind prepared to………stop and release him?  What did he see?  Where is he now?  And why can I not follow him to maintain some semblance of contact that doesn’t rely solely on my memories of him?  I don’t want him to be gone!  Almost everybody I know still have both parents alive…why my dad?  He was (still is) an inspiration to everybody that knew him — I am not saying that politely or generically, he truly was a mentor to too many people to count.  He was strong, calm, a philosopher, a superior fighter when it was required, he was an immovable rock, someone that was not subject to the emotional whims or tantrums over life’s unpredictability.  It was his support and active participation in helping my mother that she built her non-profit, “Tapestries of Hope” into an effective and successful grief support group for daughters whose mothers have died.

God damnit, he was a real man, a superior man.  He filled my heart abundantly when he was alive, from my childhood to adulthood and now into fatherhood for the first time and I know it is that very abundance that will do it’s best to fill the void left in me now that he is gone.  I wish he could be here as I raise my little girl with Sonia, it hurts so much that he won’t be.

Not even thirty days.  From the first call I got from my mom telling me that dad has checked into the hospital and it might be the cancer that we thought he beat last year to 11:21 p.m. last night when he took his last breath…some would say that’s a long time.  I don’t feel it was but I think I feel that way because I  want him back.  I had a week with him and I know there are plenty of people that don’t get that kind of time so for that I am deeply grateful.  I miss him so terribly much.  He was only 60!  Out of the blue cancer showed up in his blood.  Christ almighty.  I just spoke with him no more than a couple weeks ago, we looked each other in the eyes, we talked about a great many things at length, things I will always keep in my heart, so precious are those memories.  We made promises to one another.

Sobs rack my body.  Tears stream freely and had these words found their way on paper, the ink forming them would run…forever, trying to find my father.  I wish I could have held him, seen him one last time.  I received pictures from my mom and two sisters of them preparing my dad for cremation, wrapped up snugly in beautiful blankets and twine.  It’s beautiful indeed.  It’s sad as well, though that isn’t my dad wrapped up in those blankets.  My dad was too strong of a soul to be so contained, his enthusiasm for life, his compassion for others, his honor as a man and his terrible jokes that made you laugh at their…terribleness pushed into eternity last night, 39 minutes before Monday.

To anybody reading this, there is so much to live for in life and I truly hope you do just that.  Appreciate everybody and everything you have.  Never stop striving to improve your life and the lives of those around you.  Love.  Laugh.  Leave your mark on this world, make memories with the people you care about and even with strangers — you may have improved their day just by smiling at them.  Do not hold onto anger, hold no grudges, hold each other.  Look beyond the darkness, the negativity, the violence and selfishness we are all bombarded by on a daily basis.  Life is waiting to unfold from within you, seize every moment  you can and make it worthwhile!

Dad, wherever you are, I hope you’re peaceful and happy.  I hope you will still be able to see me as I live on and become a father.  Everyday I will look fondly on the memories we’ve made and the incredible influence you’ve had on me — an influence that is still at work in transforming me into an amazing person, a caring and strong person.  An influence whose echo will guide me into achieving my potential in life, becoming an absolute and sturdy force for good in this world.  You’re a beautiful man and I love you with all of my heart.  Goodbye, pop, journey well.

A man larger than life.  A man who WAS life.

A man larger than life. A man who WAS life.

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A rewound car crash on loop.

I’m waist deep in water.  Wall after wall of water relentlessly crashes down on me.  How I’m maintaining my foothold escapes me, I have just enough oxygen to breathe before the next wall of water slams into me, pushing me into an awkward dance for balance.  Where am I and how did I get here??  Where’s my dad?  I look to the shoreline and towering abandoned towers crumble to the ground in a lazy and sickly fashion.  My chest is tight.  The taste of salt fills my mouth.  Nausea.  At this moment I want to curl up into a ball and lay silently in a dry, dark corner.  I don’t know where to go or what to say.  I am surprised I am still writing something coherent.  My dad prepares for liberation across the hallway and I’m a fucking wreck all over again.  I’m tired of it.

Am I feeling this because it is the typical course of grief?  Is it because I can subconsciously or intuitively sense he is on the precipice now?  Or because I am leaving on Sunday and the disconnect will feel even greater?  The lights are on in the lobby here and I want them shut off.  The tv is on and I want it shut off.  My family is talking and I want them to stop.  I want the world to stop so I can yell so loud that it forces time to respectfully commence a backpedal.  I want to play my music so loud that it drowns out my thoughts and outweighs my feelings.  Auditory overpower.  Fuck cancer and fuck everything on this earth that causes it.

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Destined for silver lakes.

I love you.  I want you to know that we all love you, to know that due to your hand in my life I am a good man, because of your example I will be an amazing father to my daughter and future children the way you were for my brother, sisters and me.  I still fight myself in accepting your fate, I have moments of frantically grabbing at the last straws of “what if”, pleading in my mind for you to be spared.  It’s not to be.  The doctor said from the looks of it, you will be parting with us soon, possibly within days.  This cannot be, you checked into the hospital hardly a week ago!

I remember sitting on your shoulders as a boy while you ran me in circles around the house on Dover Road.  I was so worried about hitting my head on the doorways but you made sure I never did.  You were so strong and I thought you were invincible.  I had no idea this would be how things ended.  I love you so much.

I rebelled against you constantly and many men would have eventually turned their backs or coerced me physically into obedience.  Not you.  You had the firm but gentle hand and an unsurpassed patience in helping me reach my potential.  You were meant to be a father and I am so blessed to have become your son.  I love you so much.

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You’re sleeping peacefully.  Finally.  I am watching you, soaking up every detail and feature of yours because I know that within days or less, I will not have the privilege of doing this again.  How cruel time can be that one moment you are here with me, sick but still here with me and the next moment gone forever.  I’m so happy for you that you are able to rest.  What are you dreaming about?  Are you seeing where you will go once your soul is restrained no more by the weighty pull of this world?  I wish you could describe it to me.  Will you be there when your granddaughter is born?  I love you so much.

I’m afraid to fall asleep, scared of missing your last breaths but I know it’s understandable and things will be the way they will be.  I am happy to have been able say goodbye to you earlier and say the things that were in my heart.  You are Charles Dearing and you are my father.  I will never forget you.  I will always love you with a lion-like ferocity.  You will always be a part of my heart and I will tell my children stories about you, what kind of man you were, and everything you stood for.  Remember this as you journey across silver lakes to a better place.  I love you so much, pop.

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Incomprehensible. Hospice.

I rejoice at the same time that I cry.  In my core I understand this is the final act and while my heart feels hollowed out and haunted by my own grief, I cannot restrain the slow but steady swell of peace I have for my father and his circumstances.  Since making his decision to forego the painful path of treatment in favor of hospice, he has appeared more peaceful.  I cannot comprehend what he must be feeling, as confronting death truly does try our convictions, however, I imagine that making such a pivotal decision must have laid to rest at least one struggle, the struggle he fought internally over allowing nature to take it’s course or fighting on for his family.  I told him we all support his decision, love him deeply and will ensure he is given the most beautiful farewell.

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I think about what it would be like if I were so close to death and there are glimpses of terror over the physical act of separating from what I have known as life and an almost intuitive sense of optimism and acceptance because I feel that there is life after death in some capacity.  What is my dad feeling?  What is he thinking?  This is a journey reserved for him only, there is a line at which we all must stop and the moment will come where I finally have to let go of his hand and let him pass beyond the curtain that we hold open for him.  This sadness is overwhelming.  My dad is not supposed to become a memory!!  He’s my DAD and I don’t want him to go!!

I miss the hospital, for awhile it seemed like that was the way it was going to stay.  Every morning pulling up to Eisenhower Medical Center here in Palm Springs, my dad’s new bedroom being the one decorated with postcards from the lower 48 states that he and my mom have visited over the last four years as the “Happily Homeless” couple.  They even have a blog about their adventures, have been written about in the Philadelphia Inquirer, and have a FB fan page and hear from people all over the country who have spotted them on the road.  Nurses not even assigned to my dad would stop by to spend time with him and talk — my dad has always left such an impression on everybody he has met.  People just love him and it is showing now more than ever.  Yesterday, they came by to say their goodbyes.  The real goodbyes because they know my dad chose hospice and this would be the last time they ever see him.

The people working at the hospice don’t think he has much time left, given that new tumors appear in his body every few days.  My mom worked in hospice as well as bereavement facilitation, lost her mother to breast cancer within 6 months of losing her brother to Hodgkins cancer and feels the same about my dad’s time.  I wish I could stop this from happening!  I woke up this morning and kept telling myself this is a terrible dream, that dad is right outside in the living room with my mom planning what to do for the day, planning another way to appreciate and experience their most recent stop here in California.  I want those times back, I want them back for his sake — I don’t want him to be afraid and there is so much more life to experience!  He has a granddaughter due in June!

I miss every day that has passed.  I have a few days left until I have to return back home and get to work to support my girlfriend and our little sea monkey.  I can’t shirk those responsibilities but I just wish the world would stop moving until this was over.  I don’t want it to be over.  But at some point soon……..it will be.

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The order of chaos.

I’m having difficulty understanding how I feel.  Things are a little clearer at this point pertaining to my dad’s future.  Because there now seems to be a plan in place, that alone grants me some relief — if for nothing else because there is a plan to adhere to.  Make sense?  Sometimes, despite how terrible an event is, if there is a plan or procedure to follow, we do not feel so lost and helpless like blind men stumbling in the dark in search of a candle to light the way out.

The general opinion is six to two months life expectancy but leans in the direction of two.  If there were a chance of quality of life while working toward complete recovery, my dad would fight.  But this is sarcoma, it is in his blood and randomly attaches itself to various parts of the body.  Just yesterday, the CAT scan confirmed numerous tumors in his pelvis and thighs.  It isn’t fair!  Why cancer?  What causes it to be so aggressive??  Why do so many people have their lives affected by it?  Environmental?  Food-related?  Genetic?  All of the above?

Am I feeling a little less train wreck-like due to the routine of spending my days in the hospital?  As if this has become the new normal and I have merely adapted?  Maybe that is a part of it, though having grown up with a mom who worked in hospice and as a bereavement facilitator, I understand grief comes in waves and mine appear to be massive when they surge and replaced with peace as they wane.  I feel like I am stuck riding a liquid roller coaster.

I feel more compassion for my father than I can adequately describe.  I want to care for him.  I want to show him I love him.  I have groomed him, washed his feet, given him Reiki treatments, held his hand and had numerous one-on-one talks with him and it has made me feel so connected to him that I could cry over that feeling itself.  I look into his eyes and watch closely when we talk, when we are together and I feel in my gut that he is passing his torch to me.  As he retires his place as head of this family, I have come to a point of maturity and responsibility that I know I can not only look after the overall well-being of my future wife and our daughter, but of my immediate family as well and I believe my dad knows it.

My lil’ mija is due in early to mid-June and though I am heartbroken over my dad’s condition, I feel even more blessed over the arrival of my little girl.  The love that I have in my heart for this lil’ one has been amplified exponentially because of all of this.  Never before have I so seriously contemplated mortality or the frailty of life.  Never has it hit this close to home.  This is a lot to carry but I don’t feel overburdened, I feel determined to see it through, be strong, and do this without complaining — the same way my dad lived his life.  When there is enough love in your heart, you do it naturally and it showed with my father.

"I love you, pop."

“I love you, pop.”

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The fuck known as sarcoma.

We go through the motions with little more than habit.  I know to stop at a red light.  I stop.  But I’m not very connected to where I am or how I got here.  I don’t feel anything.  I want to; how badly I want to feel something – anything that I might feel human and fulfill an odd desire to show grief over my dad’s verdict out of respect toward him.  It doesn’t even make sense, I don’t need to prove my grief…..then again, I’m far away as I write this and have stalled out in limbo.  This is shock.  I’m numb.  Very little makes sense and my mind is a mass of disconnected and misfiring synapses.  That is how I feel.

It’s sarcoma and the doctor says it will not go away since it essentially “lives” in the blood and can attach itself to any part of the body.  My father would be subjected to exhausting and painful rounds of radiation, chemo, and/or surgery to eradicate the tumors but more could develop afterwards.  This would almost become a wild goose chase with treatments for the duration of his life.  My dad cares more about quality of life than quantity and why shouldn’t he?  It is not all of life to live they say.  Perhaps they are right.

The fate of dad occupies the silence in the room but my family finds no happiness in giving it weight by speaking it.  Such a desperate attempt to shield ourselves from the inevitable that looms on the six months or less life expectancy is in vain.  Collapse seems like the easiest option.  I see fire and smell smoke.  The world is burning.  My world is burning and the flames lick and scorch it’s apexes, many of which climb so high due to my father’s influence in my life.

He fades in and out, losing touch with reality more than I wish to see.  His bloodshot eyes roll, his lids droop and I know he hates it.  I stand with him, coaching him to breathe with me; he is so high on oxycontin that each minute he breathes in with a hard jerk — his body’s way of reminding him that he still requires oxygen regardless of how far his mind wanders.  “Breathe in.”  Six seconds pass.  “Breathe in.”  Six seconds pass.  “You’re doing well, pop.”  Repeat as necessary.  It’s necessary.

We are waiting for the CAT scan results.  He may have numerous tumors up and down his legs and in his groin.  This is a beast with a scorched earth policy that knows nothing other than death because that’s all that it brings.  My prayers for recovery are now prayers for a release from this suffering, prayers that the soul of my father can outrun and outmaneuver the ugly masses in his body.  I feel pangs of guilt over it, worried that he will not get to see his granddaughter when she is born in June but not wanting him to suffer until then.

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