I always knew my dad would die sooner rather than later - he’d had lung disease that was slowly causing his lungs to turn to scar tissue. We expected a 2-3 year decline until he would eventually succumb to respiratory failure.
We didn’t expect him to die of stage 4 lung cancer that had spread to his liver, pancreas, and spine less than 12 hours after it was diagnosed.
Yes, it was that quick.
At 4:00 in the morning, I asked my dad, “is this the last time I’m going to speak to you?” He answered with labored breath, “probably.”
And it was.
I wasn’t ready. I didn’t have a speech prepared. I told him I never wanted to stop talking to him, but what do you say to the most important person in your life when you know you’ll never speak to them again? We said our “I love yous” and our “goodbyes” and when it was over, I sat in the darkness of my bedroom trying to comprehend that I would never see or speak to my father again.
There’s so much more I wish I would have said though. He always told me how proud he was of me, but I never told him how proud I was of HIM. I never told him that I had forgiven him for cheating on my mother and divorcing her. I’m sure he knew, but I wish I would have SAID it. I wish I had told him that everything I am today, he influenced or shaped in some way. From tearing up at birthday cards to an offbeat sense of humor to my love of a good BLT, these are things that have have my father’s stamp all over them.
I don’t know how to live in a world without my father. I miss him so much, I feel like my soul is crying. He was my best friend. I told him everything - there were no secrets between us. I’ve lost my confidant, my biggest supporter, and my rock. There just aren’t words to express how empty I feel without him.
I know it will get easier. As time passes, eventually the comfort of my memories will be greater than the sorrow of my loss. But until then, I’ll just have to keep slogging through this nightmare I can’t wake up from.
That’s all I can do, I guess.