There was additional treatment and a possible move closer to my family where he’d spend his final years. There was a chance for a miracle—in a tiny experimental pill. There was hope for a turn of events that anyone waiting the final verdict must pray has in his cards. There was faith, that is, until the H-bomb dropped.
The eternal optimist in me, the one that always says, “everything works out in the end,” died that day. She lurks her head around my neck of the woods from time to time but I wish she would have accompanied me in the moment I heard this word in relation to my father. Everything does work out in the end, just not how one imagines.
I am no expert on this topic. This was my first walk beside death. I didn’t really know what it meant to be put in hospice or what hospice looked like or what hospice felt like. I thought it was a place I’d never see or experience. But now I can say I approached it with childlike eyes and a certain naïveté, and by doing so I experienced all I was meant to at my father’s side.
If faced with this experience, I encourage a few things:
Stay as long as you can by your loved one. Stay nights and days. Your loved one knows you are there, even if he/she cannot acknowledge you.
I watched the process of my father transitioning from one world to the next and thought of it in same way as when I was pregnant and held my belly in my arms—I know you are in there, I know you hear me, I am here for you.
2. Put your wishes aside.
I had to bite my tongue. I had to hold back anger. I had to fight back tears.
My father did not want a funeral or an obituary or any type of ceremony. If it was up to him, he would have just disappeared. In fact, he said, “I want to drift away,” and I knew what he meant. “Please let me disappear so I will no longer burden you, my daughter.” But life had other plans. I tried to follow his wishes and put my wishes aside. This taught me a lot about life and love.