My dad passed away last Tuesday. It has been a week exactly and it feels surreal. A big part of me is missing.
Dad was diagnosed with cancer late 2011. He tried several treatments, including chemo and radiation. It was hard on him and he eventually stopped treatment. The cancer was still there, silently spreading, but his quality of life improved significantly. During and after the treatment, he spent a lot of time reconnecting with his family in Illinois where he was able to spend time with his mother before she passed away in 2013. I am lucky to have been able to visit my Grandma before she passed. I spent a lot of time with both Grandma and Dad, and for that I am grateful.
In early 2014, Dad traveled across the country visiting national parks and monuments. He sent me postcards updating me on his travels before heading back to Arizona where we spent both Thanksgiving and Christmas together. During Christmas, he went golfing with my husband, my father-in-law, and my uncle-in-law. He seemed so full of life and energy. After Christmas, he flew back to IL to be with his family. A few weeks later, I received the call that he had been rushed to the hospital. I spent the next five days in the hospital by his side until he passed.
I never felt fully prepared for this. In some ways, no one is. However, knowing my father had cancer and seeing him on a regular basis pushed this thought from my mind. I realize I was in denial the past four years, unable to face the truth that one day he would be gone. When the time came, I was unprepared. I was filled with regret. We should have spent more time together. We should have spoken more often. We should have done a lot of things. It is hard to focus on the positive when I can punish myself with the negative.
Not a lot of people knew of my father’s illness and that was because I was unable to talk about it with anyone. Not because they wouldn’t listen, but because it was hard on me. Whenever I talked about it, I would break down. Now that he has passed, I find the same to be true. I’m not ready to talk about it in person but I didn’t want his passing to go by without mention. I love my father and want him to be remembered.