This is so hard to watch, so hard it hurts. I cringe in disbelief because let’s be real, this can’t actually be happening. Can it? No. We were just out playing racquetball and going to airplane museums. We had just found our new normal and had adapted to his post-op life with one ear left, post-chemo, post-radiation. How, now, my dad can be in hospice, I don’t know. He is 57 years old. I am 20 years old. This was not a part of my perfect timeline I set for the future. Somehow, despite that, it managed to squeeze its way into my reality, and that is so hard, so hard it hurts. So hard I walk away cringing.
I wait for the hour, the day, and the week this will get easier. I wait for the time this will make sense. That time is not coming, despite my earnest plea. That time may never come as my plea ignores the streams of tears and cries of desperation. Every day is different, better or worse, as is each hour. While we settle in a new little routine (a new, new “normal” — if you will), we find new challenges and new joys in each moment.
This last week was what I presume our new normal is now. A day or two of nursing visits, rather quick at that, along with us doing our own thing. Hospice still leaves room for independence, something I did not know before we began this journey. My mom and I have shifts set through the day where I leave in the morning to work out while she stays home with my dad. In the afternoons, I stay home while she does the grocery shopping or other necessary errands. Nights are pretty calm, I may do something with my grandma or stay home and rest. We still take the chance to rest whenever we can.
This week feels off to me as it is right now that I would be starting the new chapter of my life at Santa Clara University. I can’t believe I’m not there after years of persistence. In some ways, I am now feeling I let this opportunity slip through the cracks. I’ve always thought that’s where I should be, and right now, it is where I was supposed to be. Instead, I made a decision to wait. I know in my heart that I need to be with my parents more than anything right now, but the second guessing still plagues me. I thrive off of distractions and busyness. Not having that, though it may ultimately be good for me, is a leap outside my crafted comfort zone. The same goes for this entire situation, though.
I talked to my aunt and grandma about the unease my decision to defer has been causing me. They both shared stories with me of how their life purposes and greatest gifts have arose from the deepest valleys of either themselves or other people in their personal stories of life. They affirmed God’s timing for me. My dad’s illness is occurring at this unique point in time for a divine reason that, though cannot be explained, can be accepted. I am meant to be home at this unique point in time. January is when I am meant to go to Santa Clara, not on my own terms but on the path of my faith. I may not realize it now (and I don’t — trust me on that one), but there will be people entering and leaving my life with purpose, at the right time. As an avid planner, this is hard to accept, but accept it I must. It’s time for me to ease up and go with the flow. My dad’s situation is forcing me to learn this valuable life lesson.
As we continue to walk this road, I hold tightly to my mom’s hand, embrace the love in my dad’s hugs, and keep my head held high. The tangible love is unchanging, despite all the other changes we have faced. This constant brings peace to the instability as each night I bid, “Good night Daddy. See you in the morning,” assuring him of the joy a new day should bring.
“I love you, Sweetheart, more than you know,” he responds, almost with a tear. And with a kiss on the cheek, it’s time for sleep, settling in for an unpredictably routine night.
And I love you, Daddy, I love you so.