My dad has been sick with stage 4 cancer for about 3 years. The father that I grew up with is gone, he died the day he was diagnosed but his body is still alive. I am not saying he is some sort of vegetable but he isn’t the man he used to be. That’s not his fault and I still love my dad but it just isn’t the same. He is wasting away, he is losing his muscle mass, he lost his hair and with each chemo treatment, he loses the small amount of spirit that he has left.
My family isn’t a group of ‘feelers’ by any means, we avoid the bad things and keep a perfectly polished smile in a world of chaos. We don’t talk about how my dad is dying or even the idea of it. There have been dozens of close calls and my sister and mother acted like nothing happened.
I, on the other hand, have been preparing for the worst since day 1 and it has royally pissed me off that I am the only one that has attempted to process my dad’s death. I used to fight it, yelling at my mother and sister for not seeing what was so clear but I was yelling at their disillusion so I learned to silence myself, use my body to say the words I couldn’t, and play along to their warped reality.
But yesterday I heard honesty from my mother about the whole situation. I got the courage to ask her the question I already knew the answer to but wanted to hear it from her.
Do you think Dad is going to ever get better?
Even though the answer was correct, it stabbed me. I thought I had prepared but when the people that have been holding to every thread of hope have seen the reality, it made what I have been grieving even more real. My dad is going to die.
My mom bravely started spilling words that I don’t think she ever allowed herself to even think. How frustrating it was that my dad wasn’t doing all he could do to fight. How he wasn’t eating, wasn’t walking, wasn’t drinking enough water and how he is just managing and not fighting, almost as if he had given up.
I am so mad at him. No, I don’t know what it is like to have cancer but he doesn’t know what it’s like to be a daughter. When he isn’t feeling well, everyone allows it, but the days when I want to scream, I have to stay silent, be brave for him. He doesn’t know what it’s like to live in fear of a phone call that the man that was supposed to have so much more has lost. He doesn’t know what it is liked to be ripped off from their dad, not having him at my wedding, not having him to be a grandpa, not having him to be there when I need him.
He overworks himself, refusing to ‘put anyone out’, which is blindly selfish. Doesn’t he see how not resting is putting us out in the long run. The day where our world has to stop and we enter a chapel in black is putting us out, because that was a day where I could’ve been spending with him.
He doesn’t know.
And it kills me. I want him to be stronger, I want him to drink, to eat, to fucking try again like he used to.
This is how I know he is dead, the man I grew up with, who believed in following things through.
It’s not fair, it’s not fair, it’s not fucking fair.
I love my dad and I just want him back. That’s it, I want the hugs I used to get, I want the laughs we used to have, I want the starbucks dates, I want the debates, the days where we would ride in the car listening to music in silence, allowing the lyrics to be the only conversation needed. I want that, I want to have what most people have. I want to be the girl who doesn’t have to worry, whose world is constantly in chaos.
I want my puff.
I leave you with a song that contains a memory. Growing up me and my dad would do the dishes and dance to this song in the kitchen.