Saturday, October 27, 2012

Newest Member of the Club No One Wants to Join

Sadly, a bunch of you are members of this club, it's the I Lost a Parent Club. And it's a really shitty club that most of us know we will join one day, sooner or later, if life takes its natural course. It's still shitty. The people in the club? Oh, they're fabulous. And they get it. Because no matter how empathetic or kind or loving you are, you don't get it until you join.

So I'm a member of this club and that's part of the reason I haven't written in a while (well, that plus my normal laziness, the lazy part has not changed with my club membership), because I figured the first time I went to write I'd need to write about Dad and I kind of don't like to talk about it.

I stalled on reviewing the obituary draft Mom worked up, I still have unread sympathy cards on my table (they're opened because Mom was at my house watching my kid and sometimes she gets in this mood to sort out my mail because I will literally let it pile up for weeks [see the lazy part above, plus I pay all my bills online], so she opened them and told me how lovely they were). But I still haven't read them. Because that sort of shit reminds me that it is real. My dad is really gone.

Dad, holding Kayla the day she was born

On the one hand, I remind myself to be thankful that the suck-ass part of his disease was relatively short compared to the way many have suffered with cancer. He was on this planet for nearly 70 years, while every time I turn around I hear stories of fathers taken from families when their kids were little. My dad at least got to see that his kids grew up pretty okay (yes, the jury IS still out on me). I got to see him blossom when he became a grandfather, Kayla's and then Morgan's Pop Pop, and we got to see parts of him that we hadn't seen before.

We got the chance to have beautiful conversations with him in the last six months, opportunities that so many people don't have when they suddenly become members of this club, and for that I am eternally grateful. There is peace in me because I felt like there was not a single word left unsaid.

Let me take this opportunity to remind you all, again, to tell people that you love them. A lot. As in, all the fucking time.

The other good points were the people I think of as guest stars on The Shit Show. Laura, the one who took me and Mom to look for care homes so we could pick the place Dad spent his last night (though at the time we didn't know it would be his last night because the end all happened so fast, except for that last day which was the longest and worst day of my life), is a beautiful special lady who will never be forgotten. She, too, was a club member so obviously she gets it and then she was just amazing. The lovely ladies at the care home, the one who stood behind me (okay, I wasn't going to cry when I did this, dang it all to heck) and held my shoulders while I held Dad's hand and just sobbed. The last nurse we had, who was with us and Dad until the end... Elmar. We'll never forget that guy. Yes, this is the best you can hope for, kind, caring guest stars on one of the worst shows ever. And of course, all the people who supported us throughout this whole thing. My friends who had to hear about it as often as I could manage to talk about it and who lifted my spirits and kept me sane... of course I'll never forget those guys because they're stuck with me.

And the very best thing to have is a family you love and like very much. Without them I'm sunk.

I think about him every day, several times each day. Like I told Kayla, even when people pass away, if we love them we keep them and our memories of them in our heart. And that's exactly what I'm doing. That, and laughing and living a lot, because you need to do a little extra to live for the one who is not here anymore, at least that's what I think. And every once in a while I cry. And every once in a while I get hit with this incredible ball of loneliness, which is the only way I can explain it, and it really sucks. I mean, I just keep saying, "This really sucks." There's no way around it. And to pull myself out of it I look at something lovely and amazing, like stars or the sun setting behind a hill, or leaves on trees rustling, birds flying, good nature stuff like that. And of course looking into the eyes of my lovely and amazing daughter and hugging on her is pretty helpful. Beautiful distractions, joyful distractions, finding these would be the best advice I can give to club members.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Lessons From the S#$t Show™*

*I stole borrowed the term "Shit Show" from my pal Stephy Poo. I know she will forgive me and I even threw her a bone by adding the ™ in the title.

Learn some stuff from this shit show my family and I are going through. Here I define shit show as knowing that someone you love is very, very sick and there is nothing you can do for them. Except to be there and try to make them comfortable if you can but mostly just be there and hold their hand and tell them that you love them. So here is the stuff I'm hoping to pass on to you because it makes me feel a little better to write it down.

 There is no such thing as saying "I love you" too much to people you love. Try to live your life so you have few regrets. And then if you do have a few, try to concentrate on the good stuff. Remember that part about telling people you love them. Hug a bunch. Hugging is great even if you don't have a rack like I do. Try to find stuff that is beautiful. Like, look up at the stars. Those are hecka beautiful. And they remind you of how small we are, which is trippy and amazing. Try to find stuff to laugh about. This part can be hard so have as many funny ass people in your life as possible. And you know, crying is okay and it's gotta be done when shit is just hella, hella, hella sad. And you're not weak, you're human, if you just have to cry. But remember all that other stuff because it's super important.