Sunday, 12 December 2010

My Heart is Heavy. Time & Love...

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.


  1. I am deeply sorry to hear your dear Dad is so unwell. Oh yes. Your time and your love. It's what we all should be giving loved ones as gifts, really. Your father sounds like an incredible man. Perhaps your gift to him will also be his to you.

    Beautiful and thought provoking post.

  2. My heart goes out to you. It reminds me of a Christmas I had a couple of years ago. All the family got together which was a huge effort as my Grandfather was dying. All our hearts were breaking as we spent Christmas Day together. We did laugh, we talked and we had a great day. We also quietly watched our Grandfather every moment of the day. Fussed over his comfort and showed more affection than we normally would. He indeed showed great dignity in his dying. He was an example of strength to us and we will always love him for it. A couple of days after Christmas he passed away. We treasured our last Christmas together. It was painful and joyful at the same time. What a blessing that day has been for me. It has given me a wonderful memory to remember him by. I have lots of memories of my grandfather but I always remember our last Christmas day because he was so brave and stayed so happy even though he was in so much pain. It was his gift to us and I will always be thankful. I hope you have a great day and can show love to your father this Christmas and have great memories that linger forever. Naomi x

  3. 2 Christmases ago we had the exact same situation, only my family and I couldn't make it across the country to spend the holiday. Luckily we were able to spend it via Webcam but I completely understand what you are going through. Try not to let the "last times" get to you while you are there. There will be plenty of time to reflect upon them after he's gone and you'll want all the happy memories of the holiday to look back upon and smile. He's here now and that's what matters most. Realistically speaking, we never know how much time any of us have left and there's no sense in dwelling on that. It sounds like you know this in your heart.

    Smile, laugh and love with your Dad this holiday.

  4. This is such a poignant post and one which will resonate with many I'm sure.

    You are a compassionate and thoughtful person and I have no doubt that you will not only make your Father's Christmas a truly special and memorable one but that you will receive the gift of love in true abundance.

    Enjoy this time with all of your family, take lots and lots of photos, I'm sure that you'll sprinkle the 'big' moments like Mass with lots of light times too.

    My heart goes out to and your family, I hope that you enjoy a special time together,

    Felicity x

  5. Take photos. Lots of photos with the children.

    My heart is heavy, too.

  6. Hi
    I read your post and my heart aches for you because I know how you feel. I have lived this. My father died of lung cancer 8 years ago. The last Christmas that he was alive, he was not able to get around well on his own, but he wanted specific items for my children and he had to choose them himself despite how weak he was. He also took them out shopping, gave them each $100 and then just sat back and watched the fun. My father and I were very close, but during this time, neither of us said a word about it, but I think that we both knew that it would be his last Christmas.
    It will not be easy for you. You are respecting his wishes and that is your gift to him. It is the best gift you can give him. He has everything he needs. You have the chance now to talk to him and tell him how much he is loved. This will be a very special time, very bittersweet, but very special. You have the chance to listen and talk to him. You will look back on this time one day and you will feel blessed that you had it. Enjoy him while you can. I don't know the ages of your children, but allow them to do the same.
    I will be thinking of you. I leave my email here. If there is anything I can say, or if you need to pour out your words, please feel free to write. Sherri

  7. What a beautiful piece. So lovely, yet so sad.

    Enjoy every minute, it's all you can do. xx

  8. My heart aches for you. xx

  9. I'm very sorry for the situation you are in. Give your Dad you time and love but don't forget that you will need them too.

    Someone suggested lots of photos, I second that but if you can video. Both my parents are dead and My Boy asked me a while after my mum died "what did Gran sound like? I can't remember."

    Good Luck and I hope you have a lovely Christmas and make lots of beautiful memories for you and your family.

  10. I think the gift of time with your dad is the best gift of all. Live your Christmas family break through his eyes. Appreciate all those small moments that may normally annoy you or you may miss in the busyness of your day to day life. Savour those small moments and savour the company of your beautiful dad. It will also be his gift to you. xxxxxx Thinking of you.

  11. That is such a good point. The thing I miss most about people when they have gone is the sound of their voice, and the sound of their laughter.

  12. I second the video suggestion or even tape recordings - the one thing I long to hear some days is my Dads voice as some days I forget what it sounded like.

    Time is the best gift you can give him, rejoice in every moment this Christmas - don't think about it possibly being the "last" just be in the moment.


  13. Absolutely Darling. I am in the same position with my Dad. But we have decided just to keep on keeping on and live life, because we do not know when it ends for any of us.

    Brilliant writing.
    Love Mrs Woog xox

  14. Beautiful piece. As some of you know this is not an easy time for either my or my husband's family. Christmas does that to you. My mum died suddenly just before Christmas, so this time of year is always tinged with incredible sadness, even 15 years down the track. My mum-in-law had her last Christmas with us 5 years ago. We didn't know it at the time. We hoped and prayed it would not be her last. My daughter who was nine at the time drew a picture of all those who would be at the lunch, we had it framed and gave it as a gift. Everyone at the table is named. And it still hangs on the wall. x

  15. Your amazing spirit shines through in your words. Maybe your Dad would love to read your thoughts about him, your love for him, your greatest memories, your hopes. Paint him a picture of what you dream your life will be so he can share it with you now. Your words and most importantly your time and your kisses and love will be everything to him. He sounds like an amazing man. If I could wrap my arms around you this Xmas I would. Love Bianca x

  16. Time and love are the best presents irrespective of where you are on life's path. I hope you have a wonderful day with your Dad enjoying the memories and making new ones.

  17. I read this post this morning and throughout what has been a very busy day have found myself reflecting on it. I can't imagine your heartache but I do want to offer this. My dad was very, very sick last year and I do know that when he was I dropped everything just to be there with him. Sometimes I'd sit in the room with him and we wouldn't talk, but we didn't need to. Just being together was enough. Something I did later which he loved and still talks about was making him a photo book. I don't know if you have the time or energy for it, but I got all my brothers to write letters to him and send me photos which I compiled into a book for him to look at.
    These are just ideas. But please know that on Christmas day when our family go to mass, you and yours will be in my thoughts and prayers as well xoxoxo

  18. life in a pink fibroDecember 12, 2010

    My heart is heavy reading this post. So sad that this overshadows your time together. Just hold his hand. He's a smart man for knowing the value of that.

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  20. That's beautiful. And it makes you realise that time and love is a gift for all because you never know when the former is going to run out ...


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