4 moments from losing my dad to cancer

  1. we leave our fingerprints on the window
    looking out at the patio
    it’s cold and tired
    barebone trees with white skin
    gnarling against the wind
    we’re older now but i still remember-
    fishing for perch in orillia 
    i played with the minnows in a bucket
    and got mad anytime you hooked one for bait
    i remember when we camped and got rained out at 4am
    and you took me to tim hortons and i drank coffee with you in the parking lot
    and it was the best camping trip i’d ever taken
    i remember when we fought and i told you that i hated you
    and you didn’t understand me 
    you didn’t understand what i was going through
    but it was only because you were scared
    and now i know why you felt that way
    i remember long summers in the backyard
    hot asphalt and drinking wine on the porch
    i remember when we ran through the city with our shoes full of water
    just trying to find a way home in the rain
    and it was good because it was with you
    i remember the concert when we sat in the choir loft
    listening to bob dylan covers on the ride home
    the first time we went to the theatre in toronto
    i wore a blouse with lace sleeves and you took me for mussels
    i value these seconds
    when you laugh at a joke
    when we watch seinfeld together at night
    when we drive somewhere and i pretend to hate sergio mendez and the eagles
    when you’re awake at 4am and i come in and you don’t tell me off for drinking too much
    and sometimes i get so angry
    angry at the doctors
    angry at god for letting it happen
    angry at you for not talking about it
    angry at myself for pretending it doesn’t exist-
    but it does, and so do you
    and so do these moments that i cling to
    memories and most of all the present
    and each breath i am thankful for
    and each second i appreciate more than words
    and all of this to say that i love you
    and no matter what you’re strong, 
    you’re my hero,
    you’re the one who hooks the minnows 
    and takes the tent down in the rain while i wait in the warm car
    watching for the sunrise
  2. each morning is a mess of tubes, the steady pump of oxygen and the overwhelming heaviness of illness. i’m tense until i get to work where at least for seven hours i can pretend to do something other than worry, other than ache to my bones with hopelessness and fear and sadness. at the end of the day it’s still there and your heart still beats and i’m ashamed of my despair because you’re not gone yet, you’re in the bed and i can ask you if you remember this trip and that concert. you’re confused and ask for water and all i can do is cry and grieve the loss of conversation and memories and the strong, proud, intelligent man you once were, now lost to the blur and murmur of pills and morphine drips.
  3. it’s a state of disconnect, a game of touch and go, day by day step by step. listening for the door rushing open — the slam of the screen, heavy footsteps, surprised smiles and it’s “where were you?” but knowing all the same. it feels like an in between stage, these unreal nights of dinner on my lap and mom near me on the couch, watching foreign films and turning in at 10 o clock. the hours dragging at our eyes and hearts and our hands constantly waiting, trying not to forget the angle of your shoulders, the scar above your lip, the tiny bumps of cancer in your inner arm and between your collarbones. i work and diet and write and read and feel farflung places pulsing in my blood but above all i wait for the door and the greetings and the return of normalcy, of you and mom and my brother and i, wine on the patio and trips in the van, video games and petty arguments, hugs at night and morning coffee. there’s more than this, it’s coming, it’s under our skin, sunken into our bones. we wear this anticipation like worn clothing, something always there, familiar and safe. we wait for you to come home, hang your coat, and tell us about your trip.
  4. when the weight of your absence hits me it’s like a punch in the gut
    i sit in your car and listen to dire straits and howl
    sometimes at night in that still secret place i wish i could be with you
    just to see your blue eyes and kiss your cheek
    hear you call me “princess” again 
    i miss your jokes
    i miss your strength
    (even when you’d get frustrated at me)
    when you’d be politely mean to telemarketers
    and always tell mom and i that our meals were great
    (even if they weren’t)
    i miss driving places with you
    planning trips
    hearing your advice
    (even when i didn’t want it)
    going downstairs in the morning to see you in the living room
    you in your big green housecoat
    newspaper on your lap
    cat on your chest
    coffee in your hand
    i miss your smile
    your silly faces
    playing guitar hero with you
    slowrider, take it easy
    i miss you so much dad
    i say goodnight to you every night
    tell you i love you
    always hoping you can hear me somewhere
    that you just somehow know
    maybe one day this will hurt less
    but until then i miss you
    i love you
    til we meet again,