How are you doing?

February 22, 2013

It seems like an obvious polite question to ask, yet also so ridiculous at the same time.  The nurses at Sloan Kettering while treating my father in palliative care would ask and he’d tell them how much he hated the question.  His health was not improving, in fact it was rapidly deteriorating.  One doctor did not think he would survive 24 hours.  Other than that Mrs. Lincoln how was the play? 

Lots of people do not know what to say to me.  Some say nothing and many just ask how I am doing.  Well let’s see.  I lost my father.  I have no more parents left.  I’m depressed and feeling a bit flabby.  I’m irritable and yell at the kids more than I’d like.  

 

I’m tired of being told how strong I am. If my strength comes from losing my parents I’ll take meek and have my folks.  

 

I just returned from a wonderful family vacation in the Caribbean a perfect antidote for the blues.  And for six glorious days I did not cry.  I was am still mourning but was able to do so in a most luxurious way and for long stretches I was able to forget about my loss.  Upon returning to New York I listened to several kind voicemails asking how I was doing during this dreadful time and poof! I’m back to reality remembering this massive void in my life.  

 

I’ve been through this before so the process is familiar.  I know I will survive and the pain will cease to be this acute.  Time is a great cure and now I must endure this stage of the grief.  

But oh how I long to drown it out.  To drink and smoke.  To be debaucherous. To feel something exhilarating.  To be one day closer to a pain-free day.     

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A Whole New Stage

February 10, 2013

Returned home tonight after being gone for a week.  I wish I was on a fancy vacation or even a rustic adventurous one but I wasn’t.  After a few nights in the ICU at a fancy cancer hospital uptown I waited for my father to take his last breath.  A service in Manhattan was followed with a burial in his hometown of Minnesota by his brother who passed away rather suddenly last year and then to my dad’s most recent residence for more shiva.  

 

I sit there and can analyze some things.  

Nobody gets out alive

Nobody.  No matter when you lose a parent it is hard.  I should feel grateful that my dad was not in pain.  His last days were filled with loved ones sharing memories and telling jokes.

 

My dad beat the statics and for the most part had a great quality of life since his diagnoses.  As his doctors said, eventually cancer wins. 

You get what you get and you don’t get upset 

This slogan that parents tell toddlers reminds us that life is unfair. I should be lucky I’ve had the wonderful parents I have for as long as I did. My dad and I had our nonsense but we got past that and had a great relationship and lots of laughs.  

The pain will dull.

Unfortunately I’m an expert at mourning a parent having just done this four years ago.  When my mom passed I did not know how I could go on.  Now I know what lays ahead.  I know I’ll be okay and his absence will feel more normal. 

The pain is acute now and I’m in a bit of a daze.  It all feels so surreal.  I saw some of my husband’s text messages to his brother about how worried he is for me.  Personally, I’d say that my siblings and I are handling the tragedy remarkably well.  I wish I could just fast forward the next month.  

 

It’s supposed to hurt

If losing a parent was not painful, then something would have been missing from our relationship. 

It’s the right order

Every child should be so lucky to bury their parents.  Of course I have two grandmothers now for whom this cycle was broken. 

In the interim, I try to focus on my kids and husband.  And life goes on. And this will define me.  And I am certain I will falter and cry.  And I do have a Caribbean getaway awaiting me next week that was planned months earlier. I suppose i should be grateful that my father’s passing did not interfere with those dates.