His journey is over.

My father’s journey in this life is over.  His spirit is now free.

I arrived in Colorado a week and a half ago, on a Tuesday.  He stopped eating shortly thereafter, and didn’t eat anything for many days, except a popsicle now and then.  Gail and I took turns caring for him.  She was very grateful for that, and I was very grateful I could be of service to them both.

But because he lost his appetite, I watched him waste away, growing more skeletal by the day.  I cooked some for Gail and I, though of the three of us, I was the only one to have much of an appetite.  I learned, not so long ago, that by keeping my body nourished, I had more strength to deal with challenges.

My step-mother and I had some sweet conversations.  She brought back a basket full of pictures from his house from my childhood.  I took pictures of the pictures so that I could bring them home with me.  There was also a letter I wrote to them, when I was about 13.

My father recognized me, though, up till the day before he died.  At one point, about two days before he died, I sat on the bed next to him and told him I loved him, very much.  He put his arm around me and said, in a very weak, almost child-like voice, “I’m so glad you came out to see me.”

I was so glad to hear that, from him directly.  I mean, I’d known, but this was one of the last, very clear things he’d said to me.

I think it was that night that my stepmother gave me something to remember my father by – the necklace he always wore.   I was deeply touched by that.

He alternated between sleeping a lot and being restless.  He coughed up a lot of mucus, up until the last 24 hours, when he just couldn’t get enough strength to cough anymore.  He wanted a breathing treatment all the time, even just 5 minutes after the last one.  It was so awful to see him struggle like that.

When Gail had gone to take care of some financial documents, he had a violent coughing jag and his lower denture popped out, . I thought he was going to choke. I got scared a little and called the hospice nurse.

When Gail returned, she took his dentures out.  He looked so much more frail and heartbreaking then.

The nurse called back and changed his anti-anxiety medications, too.  They switched from Haldol, to Ativan.  It was much more powerful stuff.  He was restless on the Haldol and with the inability to clear the mucus…it was hell for him.   The Ativan knocked him out.  He spent the last day mostly sleeping…wearing a diaper because he couldn’t even stand up to go to the bathroom.  When we did have to change him, he was unable to hold himself up and he was so heavy, but we managed.

Gail told me the nurse told her he had a couple of days left.   I had to leave before he died.  I left at noon on Tuesday.  I wanted to go to the Garden of the Gods on my way back to Denver.  I truly believed he would stay on another few days.

And so, I kissed him on his forehead and said goodbye and he groaned a little.  I said goodbye to Gail and her sisters who came to see me off, and I left.

I was in the Garden of the Gods at 1:10, and left at 2:10 pm.  I stopped at a Starbucks and called to talk to my husband and daughter for a bit and take a bathroom break and get a cold drink.  I think it was about 2:30 pm.

I got back on the road and back into Denver, dropped the car off and got taken to the train station.  I called Gail to let her know I got into the station.  It was about 4:30.  I told her I arrived safely and the train would be on time.  That’s when she told me, my father passed away.  He passed away about 2:45.

I thought I was going to handle it gracefully.  I had only cried twice all week long.  Usually when just talking with Gail.

He died on April 29th – my husband’s birthday.  Exactly one month before his own.

According to my stepmother, he passed very peacefully.  He was so drugged up that he didn’t struggle at all.  My father had woken up some time after I’d left.  She called out a priest to give him his last rites…and afterward, he just closed his blue eyes, took a last breath, and went to sleep.

And, though I thought I would have handled it calmly, I ended up crying, and having trouble talking.  I thought I would have found out when I was home, not in a train station, so far from home, and so close, but yet, two hours away from them.  There wasn’t anything I could do.

I wanted to be there when he passed, if I had known it was going to be just a few short hours later, I would have stayed longer (even if it meant risking missing my train).   Was my selfishness the reason why I needed to leave when I did?

Maybe I was being selfish.  I wanted to go back to the Garden of the Gods before I left.  I wanted one last memorable experience of this trip, but it meant I wasn’t there at the critical moment.

Gail said she was glad I wasn’t there, at that moment.  I think she wanted to spare me pain, but…well, I’m weird.  I wanted to be there in his final moment.  I wanted to see him off as he left this world.  I didn’t need to be shielded from pain.  I just wasn’t expecting him to go for another few days, and my family needed me back (my two youngest daughters were falling apart, and my husband was fraying at the edges, too).

Then again, maybe he didn’t want to leave until he knew I was gone.  I won’t really ever know.

I called my husband, and while he said he was very sorry he couldn’t be with me to comfort me, he also had to get out of the house to get the girls to their softball game (which ended up getting rained out) so I didn’t talk long.  And no, he didn’t call me back when he knew it was canceled.

I called my oldest sister.

And I called a friend, who wasn’t able to get to the phone.

I think I had about 10 minutes of talk time…total.  And then I was alone in my grieving.  But I knew I wasn’t alone, alone.   It’s just that in those moments…I just wanted a friendly ear to talk to.

It ended up being all right.  It IS all right.

He was a beautiful man.  My stepmother, a beautiful woman.

The week was blessedly peaceful for me; for the most part, few problems.

I know, in my heart, I did the right thing by going.

When I was finally on the train, I called my mother.  I told her I was on the train in Denver.  She said to me, “Am I supposed to…”  And I said, “what?”  And she said “never mind”. And she hung up. My father just died, and my mother didn’t care about how I might feel about that.  I was grieving, and she hung up on me.

She didn’t care that I was 1000 miles from home and that anything could happen on the train (the trains had a couple of mechanical failures and other delays on the way out, and on the way back).   It took me 26 hours to finally get home.

There are no words to express the depth of the sorrow I felt then.  Sorrow that my mother can’t step outside her ego for two minutes and give her daughter the comfort she’s trying to ask for but can’t.

I was damned if I did go, damned if I didn’t go.  But at least, I let my conscience be my guide.  I’d rather be damned by my mother, than damned by my Self.

Though, I suppose, when I think about it…

I never really had a mother, now did I?  I was in ‘foster care’ all my life – placed in a family that clothed and fed me, but did not nourish my heart and soul one bit.

I left my ‘real’ mother back in Colorado.

And now what?

I am not sure.

I got back in last night, had a lot of snuggles with my girls, and husband, and now I need to get back into the routine of things.

Thank you all for your kindness and support when I was feeling troubled about going.  You all helped me retain the peace of mind I needed to be in the right heart space for my father even though my own family was trying to be so disruptive.

And Life will go on.

Much love, my friends.

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About Casey

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ ~ Jack Kerouac, On The Road Again
This entry was posted in Cancer, Death, Father Loss, Grief and Loss and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to His journey is over.

  1. shoe1000 says:

    Thank you for sharing what sounds like was a wonderful journey for you.
    My dad passed away last January and it was probably the best experience I’ve had in a long time
    I’m grateful that I was able to be there for him and hold his hand while he moved on

    • Casey says:

      Thank you for reading it.

      It was a sweet journey. Very powerful for me, though even right now, I can’t quite grasp the entirety of it all, let alone even begin to articulate it in words, though I did try a little bit.

      I’m so glad you were there for your father as he moved on. How precious. That is such a gift to you both.

  2. I am so sorry to hear of his passing, but it sounded like you were there when you needed to be there for the amount of time you needed to be there for. He moved on and transitioned with light and grace and love. That’s all we can ask for our loved ones and even ourselves, yes? You were hesitant in going, but you were drawn to this and put aside all other quabbles and detractors. And it was worth it, obviously.

    I hope that you get rest from this tough time, and get some recharging time with your own family waiting at home. Thank you for sharing this personal and powerful time with us.

    Blessings and hugs,
    Paul

    • Casey says:

      “He moved on and transitioned with light and grace and love. That’s all we can ask for our loved ones and even ourselves, yes?”

      Yes, most definitely.

      It sucks that I can’t be there for the memorial service next week. My stepmother was telling me how beautiful it’s going to be.

  3. So this angel of a father is where he belongs now, our dear Casey. Loving you and protecting you from above and reassuring you that you have not been the least bit selfish; self-doubting yes, his most tender and tortured girl, because he has not been allowed to nurture you with his abundant love together with your ‘real’ mother for all these years of suffering. But he knows, Casey, and so do we. You have been on our minds and in our hearts a lot these days, and we were grateful you were by his side. You did not abandon him at all before he passed, and you are not weird, either. Everything went exactly as it should go, trust us, we are not saying this to comfort you. There is a divine plan for everything, and loving hearts are perfectly in tune with each detail of it. Gail is right, please listen to her, it’s not that she wanted to spare you the pain, not any more than you father wanted to. Your father was the one who needed to shield you from this useless pain. You know his beautiful soul, how he wanted you to rejoice with his returning home, how he needed to spare you the weeping of a permanent goodbye, because it IS not a permanent goodbye, Casey. Do we weep at our front door each time we kiss goodbye someone we love? Do we make the people we love suffer by treating them as if we are never going to see them again? No, we do not. Not because destiny cannot strike any second, but because that would make us all miserable; because our days are too few to be wasted in sorrow and suffering; because our hearts are too preciously needed to each other to be wallowing in despair. All is well, our heart sister. During these few difficult and blessed days, you shared so much love with your father, which many people never do experience in a whole lifetime.
    Danny is free now, watching over us with eternal love, and we are still here as love incarnate, honoring him by supporting each other. He knows we have connected with his most beloved daughter at this very point in her life because our struggles are so very similar in their essence, so please, Casey, allow us to lovingly help you always remember that you should not be seeking anything from your biological mother anymore. You are not a little girl to be needing her support or approval, and if you let her keep you in that position emotionally, she will destroy you and your marriage and your girls’ future. If you absolutely must keep some contact with her, it is absolutely necessary that you close your heart from her. Just ignore her like she ignores you; of course she will not like it and she will always be trying to bring out the vulnerable child in you, and you will have to be firmly refusing to let her get to you. This will by far not mean that you are cold and heartless, quite the opposite, because only then will you have the energy to go on with your life and take care of your family.
    We believe in you and we love you very much, Casey.
    All will be well.
    Leon and Plutonia

    • Casey says:

      You always know what to say that is wonderful and comforting.

      Thank you both so much. Yesterday, everything kind of caught up with me. I was exhausted to the bone and very emotional.

      I’m doing well today, though I have a lot of things to take care of here. I hope to get back tonight to write you a better reply.

      And yes, I do believe all will be well.

      Thank you so much for your loving presence and your kindness. It’s been wonderful to have you in my life.

  4. “I’m sorry” won’t cut it. No matter what I say it’ll fall short. But my deepest condolences, Casey. I’m glad I got to read about him before. Don’t forget to take care of yourself.

    Love,
    D.

    • Casey says:

      Diana,

      And yet, at the same time, you don’t have to say “I’m sorry”. What’s to be sorry for? I mean, my dad is a wonderful, loving, beautiful man who is still alive and well in my heart.

      If I miss him terribly, if he has anything more to communicate to me, I’ll see him again in my dreams. I’ve dreamed so many times about people who’ve passed out of my life. If I need to communicate with them, I dream about them.

      I love my dad very much, and I don’t miss him because while he might be gone from my sight, he’s not gone from my heart. There was so much love and tenderness packed into that last week with him and my stepmother that I’ve been filled to the brim with love.

      I wanted to share this poignant bit before I share the beautiful things I’d seen an experienced along the week. I met some wonderful people, spent time communing with Nature, and feeling so in love with the world.

      It was the best experience I have had in a long, long while.

      My dad never wanted us to cry for his passing. He wanted a big party to celebrate his life. And I am planning to share the love he inspired in me, with those who’ll let me.

  5. Sending you my love and condolences, Casey. I’m glad you were there and could be of service to he and your step mum. xx

    • Casey says:

      Thank you so much, Narelle. I feel the love that my friends in the blog world has sent me. It strengthened me and uplifted me so that I could take the journey in the first place.

      I’ll never forget how you all made me feel strong when I wasn’t so sure I could be.

      Love back to you, too.

      Casey

  6. Casey, please accept my sincere condolences although I understand when you say that it was the best experience you had in a long while. My parents always tried to keep me away from funerals and anything related to death. That was a big mistake. We should teach our children that death can be as beautiful as life.

    • Casey says:

      “We should teach our children that death can be as beautiful as life.”

      I wholeheartedly agree. I’m going to ask my stepmother if I might share something about his actual passing. It was, in short, a bit of a miracle, I’m told.

      I hope she’ll let me post it…because it’s absolutely gorgeous.

  7. You are such a remarkable woman Casey. You showed such heartfelt dignity and strength in the days leading up to your father’s passing. It’s okay that you held it together and then broke down when you received the news but know this…You were right where you were supposed to be at that time. Don’t second guess yourself or think yourself as selfish. Everything that happened occurred just the way it was supposed to. We are all given choices and I think you chose very wisely.

    My condolences to you and your family. Please know that I will keep you in my prayers. ~Steph

    • Casey says:

      Thank you so much, Stephanie. I appreciate you. Yes, I know, now, deep within me, this was the right thing to do, even though at the time, it was SO, SO hard and scary.

      Yesterday was my father’s birthday, and one month since his passing. My stepmother, naturally, is still mourning. But she and her sister and cousin spent time together and celebrated my father’s birthday at one of their favorite places to go. I’m so glad for that.

      So much of my life has been hard, but it provided so many wonderful opportunities to grow. I’m grateful for that. So, so grateful.

      I’m becoming more who I am meant to be.

      Blessings to you, my friend.

      Casey

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