2010 was the only time in 33 years I was able to see my father and embrace him. It’s been 4 years since that photo was taken…but it doesn’t seem that long ago. You can see all the pictures of my daughters and my sisters’ children, and a wedding photo of my husband and I in the background. Including my three daughters, my dad has 9 grandchildren. My daughters are the only ones he’d seen in real life.
That’s me, my stepmother Gail, my daughters, and my father all on a little train ride around a pond at the Pueblo zoo. My stepmother and dad always knew how to have fun with kids.
I spoke with my stepmother last night about my father and the prognosis is not good.
I just wanted to share what she wrote on her facebook page today:
Just an update on Danny’s condition. he is in stage 4 of lung cancer, which means I have maybe I have 6-9 months left with my gentle, beautiful husband. We have had almost 42 years together, good and bad, but the majority has been good. He will be starting chemotherapy next Friday as a course of palliative care. The Dr. explained that it will be just to try to give him a better quality of life so that he’s not struggling to breathe and try to kill any more cancer cells that may develop. We are going to need a lot of prayers.
In one of our recent phone conversations, my stepmother told me that she met me when I turned 3. In fact, I am pretty sure I met her on my birthday, or on a day I was celebrating it with my father, who had already been divorced from my mother a year by then.
I tearfully wrote this response on her update:
Mom Gail, I know we talked about this a long time last night. It’s really hard to see it in writing. Sometimes it feels like it was only yesterday that I got you and my dad back, even though we’ve been in phone/letter/email contact for many years now. I’ve shared the news with my sisters, though I know they don’t feel the same way as I do. I think what is so hard for me as he transitions to the next realm, is that I can’t be there to be with you, and he. Is it selfish of me that I want to be there, with you, when he draws his last breath? I feel in my heart I should be there with you, standing beside you, being your support as you have been mine all these years. I know he’ll be watching over his grandchildren from above. And me, too. Please ask him, if you can, to come visit me in my dreams. No matter how old I get, I’m always going to need my dad. Please let him know how much I love him and how grateful to know that you and he loved me and my sisters so much.
I’m not so much afraid of death or dying. I know it’s a part of Life. I also know that the end of the physical body is not the end of the soul, it’s not the end of the connection we have to our loved ones. I’ve dreamed before of my friend Barb, who died, more than a few times since her death. I’ve dreamed of people who’d left my life who were still alive but we’d departed for one reason or another. I know the dream world is the place where I have been able to see and hear and touch those I’ve loved deeply.
I think it’s time for me to revisit a film I have really come to appreciate a documentary by Tim Wilson called Griefwalker, about Stephen Jenkinson, “the leader of a palliative care counselling team at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital.”