14th September 2015 (Yay! It’s my birthday!) – Sorry for the radio silence! I’ve taken a few days off -I’m very lucky my work allows flexibility – normal scheduling has been resumed and all administration stuff is up to date…so things are kind of back to normal…and it’s my birthday! So I’ll be getting to bed early in moment, so that my mum and sister can take me to lunch tomorrow at a reasonable hour!…
I’m sad to say, my dad passed away earlier this month. The chemo and radiotherapy did slow the tumour’s development to an extent but unfortunately, it was growing so quickly that after he finished the treatment, he was having symptoms that could have either been from the chemo or from the tumour. And by the time the scan result came back, we already knew what the situation was. But it had continued to develop. He did have a wonderful death (if such a thing is possible); we were all with him throughout. And ultimately he got sleepier and sleepier, went into a coma and then died peacefully. As he was making the transition we all had the opportunity to spend time with him – talking, praying, singing and telling him what we were doing and stuff. His consciousness came and went more and more towards the end but they were very precious times. If it’s possible to conceive, he did have a beautiful death. At home, with his family and ‘naturally’ with just a bit of morphine as he had a headache towards the end. Though I think it was from dehydration (which is usually a natural part of someone ‘fading out’ – they naturally lose their appetite and thirst as the end is coming close so they can have some cramps and things from that;morphine takes care of it and ensures they’re comfortable – though possibly a bit high!). We had discussed the options as a family and we all agreed ‘home hospice’ was something we would not only be able to cope with but would consider the best option and that we would want to be there taking care of dad to the end.
I have to say, even with a terminal cancer, you actually have no idea of when the person will die or exactly what the mechanism of death will be. You know it will kill them but you don’t know how or when. Which isn’t unlike life for the rest of us…we all know we will die but we don’t know when or how! Somehow, it’s not something people talk about or consider much. You have to deal with it if someone you are close to is dying – are you going to ‘man up’ and face their mortality and your own by taking the journey with them? I think with the support of friends and family, and the person who is dying of course, the experience can be something truly sacred. I’m so pleased things went the way they did. It happened more quickly than we had expected…but dad wasn’t incapacitated until perhaps a week or so before he died. He was gradually getting weaker – but I’m glad there wasn’t a situation like if he’d had a massive seizure and had to be put into hospital and then into a hospice etc.
So it’s a sad…but in a way, we’re all kind of on a high and celebrating his life and also the journey we took with him through the diagnosis, treatment and finally his death. I love him so much. I can’t wait to see him again! I think the first thing my dad will say when I meet him again is, “you were singing ‘Substitute’ out of key” – I was singing along to his music and we both love The Who!
My sister and I got matching tattoos – in the style that dad had wanted one (but hadn’t been allowed due to chemo!), so my sister had put the design on T shirts for everyone. And a few days after he died, me and my sister went to have matching swallow tattoos. Because, one swallow doesn’t make a summer, but there’s more than one of us! And it’s been a wonderful year in all kinds of unexpected ways.
So…that’s kind of the main update. It’s been an intense time and there’s been a lot of laughter and a lot of tears. And we’ve kind of adopted as a curiously relevant ‘anthem’ of the year, the song I was learning on the harp – “Tonight You Belong to Me” (Patience & Prudence) – I’ll put a YouTube link below. Some of you may recognise it from American Horror Story!
“I know you belong to somebody new
But tonight, you belong to me
Although, we’re apart
You’re a part of my heart
And tonight, you belong to me
Way down by the stream
How sweet it will seem
Once more just to dream in the moonlight
My honey, I know with the dawn
That you will be gone
But tonight you belong to me”