Monday, June 05, 2006

Holding on with both hands

My dad is rather eaten up with cancer. The miles between us have always allowed him to tell me he's fine when I ask, and as long as he keeps his voice even, he can make me believe it. I never truly do, but maybe it's best defined in that it's an illusion we share together, for the duration of our phone calls.

I know he doesn't want to worry me, but I'm not worried. What can I do? Snap my fingers and make the cancer go away? I'd already have callouses if it were that easy. So instead of mourning the inevitable, I've held on with both hands to every single moment he has left, cherishing them as I should've cherished most of my youth. (In short, it's only been the last 7 years or so that we've had any sort of remarkable relationship, and almost 2 years since he learned he had cancer).

To say I feel cheated out of all those memories of a little girl and her dad that are often a montage in movies is an understatement. Suffice it to say that my time spent with him was generally spent in his presence, not with him, per se. My early good memories can be summed up in either going to Western Sizzlin for dinner together or renting a movie and getting a pepperoni pizza from Johnny's.

I will not go into the complexities of the whole relationship, because none of us have that kind of time.

So here we are, much later, and my dad -- always a stalwart to me -- is now suffering tremendous pain or quite groggy from morphine and conventional medicine can do no more for him. He was recently told he has 2-6 months left. Of course, he was told this at least a month ago, according to his wife, who I spoke with at length yesterday and finally found out what "I'm doing fine" really means.

They've found an experimental procedure that could help him. And what's he got to lose right now, time not being on his side. There's an appointment for later this week.

My one desire is that he does not suffer. Oh, sure, I want more time, I want him to see his grandkids grow up, and I want the opportunity to finally prove to him that I'm not such a bad kid... that maybe I'm even worthy of his pride. But above all else, I want him to have quality of life, not just quantity.

It's not up to me. I'm not worried, in a conventional sense. There's no point to worrying. I'm jealous of my time on the phone with him, and I'm already beginning to regret things I did do or didn't do (depending on the thing), and I'm wishing for so many petty things, like "do-overs" (remember those from elementary school?).

I cannot tell you here how much this man means to me. He has been my hero my whole life. I've always strived to make him proud, and desired to follow in his large footsteps as to my character, honor, and integrity. I've always wanted him to find favor with me for choosing my own path, not fault for doing it my way instead of his.

Just don't let him suffer, Lord. Whether this procedure works or not... just don't let him suffer. That is my only prayer.

If anyone reading this is the praying type -- fan, friend, or stranger -- please... pray for my hero.


TheMatrix8475 said...

You know my prayers and thoughts will be with your dad and you my friend, always. :)

Dach said...

I know exactly what you're going through, since I lost my grandfather last week the same way. I can only empathize and sympathize. The waiting game with such a thing as cancer is nothing less than painful when not excruciating.
Now, what I'm going to follow with is meant as a perspective of help and not intended as a cold-blooded comment. Sometimes, we are selfish, wanting to hold on to those we care about and keep them for a long as possible. Even when we know they are suffering. Having said that, realize that death is inevitable. The character Bull from the classic show "Night Court" said it best, "Death is just natures way of saying, 'Hey, you're not alive anymore'". Letting go is something that we, as humans, don't do well. I'm just as guilty too. When your father does pass, and you know all to well is does have to happen, realize that he isn't suffering, he doesn't feel the pain, and he has the best seats to watch his grandchildren grow up. The down side is, he won't be able to hold them or comfort them, or spoil them as only a grandparent can; but that's a small price to pay compared to what opportunities he will have.
A close friend and man more wise than me told me when my grandfather was fighting, "On the day he does pass, he has the chance to see his grandparents that he felt he lost too soon, and his parents, and all those that went before him. But most importantly, he'll have the chance to touch the face of God".
Just remember, letting go is the hardest thing we ever have to do, but when you do, you have friends and family there that won't let you fall.
All my heartfelt sympathy. C

redwulf said...

While I have lost loved ones, I can, in no way, compare those losses to the one you now face. Know that my love and my prayers are with you and your dad.

rocio.u said...

This post moved me to my very core. I can relate to many things you said. I will pray for you and your family. May God grant you strength.

Margo Crawford said...

Thank you all very much.

Ginevra Fanshawe said...

I've been trying to post a comment here for days, and Blogger kept being down or freezing. I want you to know how admirable I find your honesty, and the way you are able to carry on, not to mention inspiring others (like me!) while you are suffering and afraid.

I hope the experimental procedure works, and that he is spared the pain. I'll be thinking of you guys.

My dad is one of the least physically healthy people I've ever met. Heavy smoker, unrepentant alcoholic, emphysemic. He barely eats and looks like a skeleton flapping around in clothes from the 1970s that once fit snugly. Somehow he's carried on this long, but the fear of that inevitable phone call is never completely out of my thoughts....

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