Story time since it's on my mind and I wanted to share and ask a little extra patience.
May 20th. Mary and I are at a local garden shop trying to find flowers for our front patch that the rental company has since stoned over. I get a phone call from my mother saying my dad was going in for testing because he was having some trouble swallowing. She thought it might be a hiatial hernia or something and told me not to worry.
May 25th. I get a call from mom saying they found something in the upper GI and they were sending it in for biopsy just in case. We figured it was benign. Barrets esophagus. Nothing to worry about.
June 1st. The biopsy results came back. Cancer. They were sending him for more tests. They had to see how far the cancer had spread.
June 5th. Dad calls. Says the cancer has spread into his lymph system. I've studied anatomy extensively. I know that's a death knell. My construction working father has no idea. I don't know how to tell him. Doctors give him 6 months. He's supposed to go in for chemo.
November 24th. Thanksgiving at my house. Mary and I host and cook. Dad has been going through chemo. They're showing some reduction in the tumors. It's shrinking. For the first time in 6 months, I think my dad might just fucking make it. I think maybe they'll shrink it enough to take it out. Give him an extension on life. I start to hope.
February 14th. Dad calls. Tumors have reduced by half. They're looking at surgery. They're hopeful they can take it out, give him a shortened esophagus and he'll have trouble but he'll live. We're all hopeful. I make the offhand comment to him that he's too mean to die.
March 17th. Dad calls. The tumors have metastasized, grown and spread. It's now aggressive stage 4 cancer. My family is still thinking he'll beat it. I know better but I can't tell them. I start planning the things I want to do with him before he goes. He basically tells me to fuck off without using those particular words. He's not dying yet, he says. We have plenty of time for that. Nothing I can do about it.
All through this I'm doing massage for him. He signed for my loans for massage school. He listened to me bitch about how boring my teachers were. He came to my graduation on his wedding anniversary. He's in a lot of pain. I was the one that found the first tumor and told him to get it checked out. Hard, immovable mass in his back and shoulder. I'm glad I can bring him any kind of relief. I take classes on oncology massage so I can keep him as comfortable as possible.
May 20th the next year. Dad calls. Says he wants us to come up and visit. I can tell in his voice. He's circling the wagons. He tells us they've given him 6 weeks. I hadn't seen him in almost a month. In that time he's wasted away too a husk. Feeding tube. IV fluids. He can't lie down. Has to sleep in his recliner. I do a massage for him. He's riddled with tumors. I can barely massage muscle without tumor. He finally falls asleep. Mom says that's the first he's really slept in over a week.
June 5th. Dad calls and says he's on his way out. He can feel it. I promise I'll come up on Monday after my doctor's appointment if he can just make it that long. I say my goodbyes in case I don't get to see him. I spend most of the night up crying and writing. It's the only way to keep my mind from spiraling.
June 6th. My niece's birthday. Party at the house . I don't go because I know. I stay busy. I just keep doing my thing at the convention I was working. I pick up gifts for the remaining family.
June 7th. I park in the lot of the doctors office. Mom calls. It's silent for awhile but then she says finally, "dad's gone".
It's 5 years this year. I thought I was going to be okay and I'm still not. So I'm doing my best but I might be off. I might be distracted. I wanted to let you know. It's gonna be okay. It just hurts.