In my life I have many dates that stop me dead in my tracks, that no matter how strong I pretend to be these days knock me to my knees. I hit the metaphorical dirt pavement face first, and instead of morphing tougher skin I am left raw from scars stacked onto ones left unhealed.
Today is one of those top dates for me, as I think back 12 years ago, that night I would lose my dad to Cancer, I was 31, a new mom to my youngest who was 2 years old, dad was 57.
The new matchbox twenty song How far we’ve come was just released and on the radio as I raced to the hospital because dad had awoken from a 2 day coma and had asked for me, his Sanderella,( Sandra), the name he has called me since I was a child.
By the time I arrived he had slipped back unconscious and took his last breath mere minutes after I arrived. I had just kissed him and whispered it’s OK, you can go, and as I held his hand, I watched a tear flow down his face, then his chest no longer rising.
No amount of preparing for this moment made it one bit easier, I screamed and shook him, as I grabbed my 11 year daughter who had accompanied me, and ran out of the room.
Leading up to that day was a rollercoaster, he was hospitalized on father’s day , slipped into a coma then, was given his last rights but came to in time to come home on Canada Day and back into the final coma 2 weeks later.
He had been fighting for 1 year and 4 months, every minute we had with him I’m thankful for, but it tore me up to watch him suffer most of that time.
When he was too weak to leave the house I cut his hair. I searched high and low for slippers for his swollen feet. I coaxed him like a baby with food because he no longer wanted to eat. I dressed him as he sat mortified his daughter was doing so. I did for him a sliver of what he did for me, I just wish I could have done more, the what ifs, should ofs ,and could ofs haunt my soul.
CANCER IS EVIL!!!!! one minute your loved one seems ok, next they are gone!
Anger, grief, disbelief,depression, all hit me at once in the minutes, hours and days that followed. I wish I could say those emotions have long passed, or at best subsided, the truth is when I look at the calendar knowing July 16 is coming, the emotions start to flood back, and today they are as sharp to my heart as if I am still standing in that hospital room screaming as if somehow that would reverse time.
I can’t speak for my brother who was 22 and expecting his first child, but for those who judged him for not rushing to the hospital after the death, and not attending the funeral, I hope you never feel the grief we felt, and if you do and can handle composing yourself for things like funerals good for you, but it does not mean we all can or should be chameleons.
I did my best that day, with the help of my cousins, carrying my dads coffin in my brothers place, I did it without malice towards him , the whole time wanting to turn around and run to were he was and hide as well.
I want to believe his death was like a well written poem, for the daughter who always loved a heartfelt ending, he called for me and waited long enough for me to arrive, I couldn’t have written that ending if I tried!, still it’s a script I wish I was never part of.
Even more ironic and poetic is the fact that my Hubz lost his little brother tragically when he was 9 and his brother 4, July 16 1987, my brother in law would have been 36 if he had not been struck on his bike that day, 16 years before I met Hubz and 20 years before I would lose my dad.
We found out the exact date when I contacted the newspapers for articles from then. I wanted to collect these things for my Hubz, and our son who often asks about his uncle.
I can not phantom the pain Hubz and his family feel, I can only imagine they relive this date in full colour like I do.
I can’t find good in days like this, even if they smack me square in the face, I want to believe in fate, meant to be’s, all the feel good things people try to spell out for you when tragedies occur, but I just can not.
Even acknowledging that Hubz and I share this day together, somehow the chapters of our lives have become part of “our” story, doesn’t erase the pain.
We shall each take today to endure waves of pain, then together breath in and out, as we wait for tomorrow to come.
Thanks for stopping by and reading.
Here is a poem I wrote a few years after losing my dad, I share it every year on social media and just change the # of years, as the rest of the words never will change.
Its been 12 years since I touched you
12 years full of pain
Its been 12 years of tears
And scars that still remain.
The kids are grown up
I’m aging too
So much has changed
So much left to do
My days are half joy
The rest tears n sorrow
I wake up remembering you
Knowing I’ll miss you tomorrow
Your touch I forget
Your smile only in dreams
Your voice has faded
Like aged movie scenes
You’ll always be my Pai
And their only vavo
And when my time comes
I’ll be back beside you
I need you more then ever
But know that will never be
So I watch you in the kids
Living on in them, and me
So here’s to another I miss you
On the day I said goodbye
Here’s to I’ll never forget you
And how you were my pai
RIP PAI. July 16 2007
PAI ( pronounced PIE means dad)
Vavo ( pronounced vah voo) means grandpa