I have offered up my blog for a friend, so that she may feel lighter in her heart.
Lighter for the cathartic act of writing the words out. Words that show how committed she is to her family. Words that show her pain. Words that remind us all of the importance of time and love given.
My friend needs space to maintain privacy for her and her family. I give her this space, here. It is the very least I can for her. I only wish I could do more.
I know you will show her support.
My heart is heavy as I write this. I am filled with sadness. I am letting it come. I am letting it wash over me in thick waves.
Christmas is coming. My husband and children will travel with me back to our families in another state. We will share the days leading up to and the day of Christmas itself surrounded by our families and friends.
But this year Christmas has a cloud looming over us all. This Christmas as we laugh and smile, eat and drink… as we embrace and reminisce we will all be wondering the same thing.
Will this be his last? Will Dad be here next year?
I do not know what to do with these feelings. I do not know how to categorise them, where to put them. I can neither push them away or let them out in full force for fear that the sheer weight of them will swallow me whole with grief.
I know that luck has been on our side and that by some miracle the cancer has slowed down some. So instead of him not being here this Christmas, he is. The pain is not too great, and he is able to manage at the moment. But his body is no longer his own.
I do not know what I will face when I see him. I know he will have changed, be weaker, paler, tired. I know he has little appetite, and that the single malt whiskey he so loves no longer speaks to him.
I know there will be good days. Bad days. In-between days. For him, for me, for the family.
I know that I want to go to Christmas Day Mass with him. But I fear my emotions will get the better of me.
Then there is the unasked question of what to give as a gift to a dying father… one who says he has everything in his wife, daughters, grandchildren and son’s in law. One who says success is a grandson holding his hand at the football, not money in the bank.
What do I give to a father who told me his last gift will be showing his grandchildren that there can be dignity in dying?
There is only one thing I can think of to give him. My time. Time to sit and talk about books. Time to sit and talk about our shared love of writing. Time to sit and watch as my children play around us. Time to sit and say nothing.
And love. The love of a daughter to a father who has taught her that being in the minority is sometimes the right thing. That life is full of learning and doing. That the things in life worth having cannot be measured in monetary terms. That family is worth fighting for… and letting go of.
So, that is what I will give my Dad. My time and my love.
And we will not sit and wait for death. It will come when it comes, and we will be as ready as we can. But there is life to be lived in the mean time.
My gorgeous friend. Just hugs to you.