Four months ago my family found out that my father had cancer. As with all chronic diseases, it comes with a great shock, doubt and a bit of guilt; how did we not know all this time? Are we bad people? The answer to all these questions is that there is nothing anyone can do and there is no way of telling — especially, like in the case of my father, when the person affected dispels the mere thought of hospitals and everything modern medicine. So we took heart in the fact that he still had a number of months to live and making each one of them memorable. He went on one last family vacation to our family’s favourite resort, my two oldest sisters flew in from Australia and the UK and friends and family from around the world came to share their favorite memories of him at his living funeral — yes, you read that right. Some back story, my father does not want a funeral because he believes that they are a waste of money and wanted to hear what people had to say about him so, instead, we had a huge party for him two months ago.
No one can really prepare you for having to live with and care for someone who is dying of a chronic disease; especially when it is beyond the point getting any form of noticeable relief from medicine. Due to work and school, I have not been able to come home as often as I would have wished to see my dad. So, every time I have seen him over the past four months he is worse off than the previous time. I did not think it would get this bad, heck, I do not know what I thought it would be like but I was just not prepared to see my dad, my hero, my family’s patriarch become so vulnerable and helpless. It’s hard to believe that the old man who now sits in his chair, feet swollen like inflated balloons, words slurring, is the same man who used to run around the yard with us, install irrigation systems in the most remote and needy communities and was always everyone’s pillar of strength.
As I sit outside this morning, heartbroken and scared for him, I am asking myself why life is so unfair. What is the best way to deal with this? And, most importantly, will my family be ready to let him go when the time comes? Of course I want him to have peace and unfortunately for us that means his passing however, is it selfish of me to want him to live when just breathing hurts him and he is mentally absent and sleeping the remainder of his days away? I wish I knew how to feel or what to tell myself that would make this better or, better, make it all go away.
Everyone keeps telling me that everything will be okay but, it’s hard for me to accept their words because, although they are genuine, I know that it means having to let him go and letting time move my family on. So, I’m here asking God to give my family strength, tons of it, and peace of mind. I do not know what either of these will look like but I know we need them. For once, the page on my computer is not enough for me to fully express my feelings and the words that fill it do not give me any closure.