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Grieving Over a Recent Loss
I didn’t have my regularly scheduled post up last week, because I had to travel out of town, back to Dallas for the memorial service for my dad. My mom asked me to write the eulogy or similar for the pastor to read, so I did, thinking about not only his life with my mom (they were married 53 years), but about the memories I had of him, growing up and even my interactions with him recently.
Even now as I sit here writing this, my eyes are tearing up, thinking about the fact that I won’t get to see his face or hear his voice again, at least not for a while if I live a long life.
My dad was diagnosed with non Hodgkin’s lymphoma almost a decade ago, however with his treatment and prayers, he made a full recovery. It was around that same time, either before or after, that he had to have a double bypass, but again he pulled through. Shortly afterward he had some growths on his scalp and face that were related to lymphoma called follicular lymphoma, although they are typically slow growing cancers. My dad chose to go through radiation, because he didn’t want surgery, however he didn’t have to have chemo.
In the intervening years, my dad’s oncologist would do scans to make sure he was doing well, though one thing I’ve learned through this process with my dad is that lymphoma doesn’t go away; it’s always there, waiting to strike again.
It was in March of last year when the Pandemic had shut everything down that my dad started having pain in his leg, similar to sciatic pain, running all the way down to his toes, however because everything was shut down, he could only have virtual visits. He was prescribed medication, although it didn’t help. He had at least two more virtual visits, all in the middle of the shutdown, to no avail. He was at the point where he couldn’t walk. He was told to get a massage, but that made him hurt more.
In June, when Dallas opened back up, my dad was sent to a specialist, who paid particular attention to his past cancer and asked questions about his scans. My mom texted me, when they got the results the morning after his MRI, ‘It’s cancer.’ I was in shock. And scared. My dad had health issues in the past, although it was this most recent one, where he was at the point where he couldn’t walk, that concerned me the most. My younger sister and I weren’t sure if that was his death sentence.
From that moment on I did all I could to be available to both of my parents and to visit as much as I could. There were countless doctor appointments my mom had to take my dad too, not to mention several ER visits that we couldn’t help her with, not with COVID dictating everything and the care people are receiving.
I watched my dad waste away as his illness weakened him, though he hardly complained. I wanted to rage at the doctors, his oncologist, the inept hospital staff that kept insisting he had COVID when he couldn’t breath, and the powers that be to help my dad, to let me see him, and to give him dignity in his final moments. And I think I still feel all of those things, that rage, that hurt that my dad had to go through everything he went through. I feel robbed by COVID and the restrictions being placed on hospitals when a person doesn’t have it. We have masks, we have thermometers, we even have tests. No one should be left to die without their family, and no one should miss the opportunity to say goodbye.
I know what I’m experiencing is fresh; I certainly haven’t completely processed that my dad is gone. When I was at my mom’s house, there were a lot of other people around, so there were distractions, and I could also pretend he was at work. Next time I don’t know how many diversions there will be, or if I’ll be able to imagine he’s just working.
I want to say something witty, to bring this all together with my blog, however I can’t, not right now, because I’m too sad to do that, although I wanted to share what I was going through. Maybe in time I can, but not right now.