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.