Thursday, October 16, 2008
One Year Later
This time last year, emails and phonecalls were flying between my siblings, Mom and me. We went from high hopes one day to deep despair days later. Dad had been diagnosed with cancer. No one wanted to hear the word terminal, but that was the end result within mere weeks. Every day it seemed that one of us found new research that might held Dad. Little did we know that his cancer was too far advanced to benefit from any treatment. I believe he knew for a long time that something was horribly wrong. Being the ever stoic-Norwegian-type, he kept his worries to himself. He declared pride in getting his weight down to what it had been during his Navy days sixty years ago. But, he had also shrunk several inches and his shoulders were no longer level with the horizon -- something in which he took pride and encouraged in his children. Some of us had been questioning his health for years but it wasn't our place to mention it to his face. It's one thing to live with cancer and another to deny it. Somehow Dad did both. His father died following several, debilitating strokes that left him in a dreadful nursing home -- his eyes his only means of communication. We had all watched his mother die a slow, excruciating death from metastatic breast cancer. These tragic ends must have haunted him. Wondering if the outcome could have been different had Dad sought medical attention earlier just prolongs the pain of our loss. He chose the way he would die and thought he was sparing us from witnessing the slow decline of a proud, strong man. To a degree he succeeded. A year later, I'm better able to understand and accept his decision, but I still miss him horribly.