Sunday, January 16, 2011

I hate this week.

It's officially the 16th now. I hate this week.


Four years ago today the doctors told me that there was absolutely nothing more they could do for my father. Four years ago today the doctor stood and told me it would be selfish of us to continue to keep my father alive. Four years ago today, my father's IV that was giving him fluids that were keeping him alive blew. Four years ago today I called my father's friends and family members and told them that if they wanted to see him again, they needed to come now. Dad had spent most of the month sleeping. When he did wake, he was often confused and unable to carry on a coherent conversation. I had known that eventually we would reach this point, but that didn't help to dull the pain that stabbed through my heart when the doctor said "it's time".

Less than an hour after my conversation with the doctor I went outside to smoke a ciggarette (I've been smoke free for four years next month) and make a few more phone calls. When I came back, my father, who had been sleeping for days, was sitting up, drinking a cup of coffee and talking. Not the confused babble that had become the norm, but a real, coherent, honest to goodness conversation. He appeared stronger than he had in the month I had been home. He was laughing as I walked in the room. God I miss hearing him laugh.  He saw me come in and said "Do you have any idea how long it's been since I have had anything to eat?" (Yeah, I did. He hadn't had actual food since he had entered the hospital on December 29th.) "I want a cheeseburger. Go get me a cheeseburger. A bacon cheeseburger. Two of them Go to Hardee's for me, will ya?"

I couldn't believe what I was seeing. They had just told me that they couldn't do anything. They had just said he may never even wake up again. That I probably would never have another meaningful conversation with my Dad again. Here he was asking for a cheeseburger. I went to the nurses desk and asked the nurse, Eric (who just happened to be a friend from high school and an old neighbor) what I should do. His response, "Steph, your dad is going to die. We still can't help him. If the man wants a bacon cheeseburger, go get him a bacon cheeseburger."

I did get that bacon cheeseburger. Two of them. And curly fries and a chocolate shake. And he ate every bite. The man who hadn't eaten in nearly a month ate every single bite and then, he asked when he could see his dog. After a talk with the nurses, and explaining just how big this dog (a siberian husky) was, my brother went home to bathe her and we "snuck" her into the hospital to visit Dad. At this point they are still telling us it could be as soon as a few hours, but I just didn't belive it.

Four years from tomorrow they discharged my Dad from the hospital. Four years from tomorrow I took my Dad home. It was like having a baby all over again. He needed medicine every four hours at most. His stomach had shrunk, so he could only eat very small meals (unlike the one he inhaled in the hospital that night). I was constantly having to make him something to eat, giving him meds, or helping him to the bathroom or changing a diaper. (He was still so weak that he couldn't control his bowels. He appeared to get stronger every day though. I knew that the doctors didn't know what they were talking about.

Four years ago on the 21st my Dad quit eating.
He quit drinking.
He quit talking.
He mostly slept.
When he was awake, he just stared into space.

Four years ago on the 22nd, my mom and my aunt came to visit. I took a shower while they visited with Dad. I felt rejuvinated. I felt better than I had all week.
I walked into my Dad's room and my kids were talking to him. He told them he loved them and then they ran off to play. He motioned for me to come closer. He hugged me and told me he loved me. And then he went back to sleep.

A few hours later the hospice nurse stopped to check on us. She didn't like what she saw. As she listened to Dad's heart, he jumped and opened his eyes. He pointed and said, "It's coming! It's coming!" I tried to calm him down and told him that the nurse was just trying to listen to his heart and lungs. He just kept saying "It's coming!"
Then he closed his eyes.........
.......his breathing slowed........
......I was relieved that he had calmed down.

 And then I heard those dreaded words.

"Stephanie, it's time to say goodbye now. We're losing him. If you want to say goodbye, now is the time."

Four years ago, on January 22nd, I held my Daddy's hand and I told him I loved him.......
.......and as he took his last breath, I kissed his forehead and said goodbye.

As I sit here and write this, four years later tears are streaming down my cheeks. Four years later, and it still hurts nearly the same way as it did that day four years ago as I said goodbye.

Four years and I am still not used to the idea that you are gone.
I miss you Dad. I miss you more and more every day.
I'd give anything to have you back.


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