The forage through my email gave me a little courage to pick up the diary I last closed a few before dad’s death.
It was actually incredibly hard to read the last pages but it feels a little like I’ve found enough strength to visit that old ground, to lay the ghosts that linger in those words, so I can move forward and find a new story.
I wanted to share my last entries:
Dad is now on oxygen 16 hours a day. He no longer has the strength to talk or the independence to have anything to talk about. Of all the things that have dropped away, it is that I miss the most.
He sits in his chair, shrinking, diminishing, reminding us of what we know but don’t want to – that there is nothing to be done and he won’t get better.
It is still strangely unreal even after so long. I believe he will die soon yet I do not. Sometimes I test the words in my head ‘dad has died’ and most times it feels like a line from a movie but on others it brings an unbearable heaviness, a blunt pain that I just can’t carry.
I am ok but also I am not, not at all. I am tired for no reason, cautious, blinkered and unwilling or unable to look far forward. I feel stretched thin, choked on all that is unexpressed and unsaid.
Yesterday the word overwrought came into my mind – that is how I feel, as if the material I’m made of has been too twisted and contorted to hold it’s core integrity.
Things may fall apart at any moment but the days and I basically manage one another. I sleep. I wake up. I smile. I fill my days with nothing.
There are times when I want to howl, but I am so tired of my own grief that even the pain seems distant and contrived.
I miss closeness. I would love to spend time with someone. I would like someone to hold, to be held, to feel here once in a while.
Before I found writing therapeutic, a vent. Now I seem to avoid it. I am so tightly wound that letting go any of control feels almost dangerous.
Dad is worse and worse, weaker and weaker. We know the road ahead is short and rocky and yet somehow I still can’t quite believe that this can be happening, that there can be more, that it can get worse (and I’ve felt that for months already).
Dad has diminished, shrunk – only suffering grows.
There is no quitting, no day that does not have the cancer in it – it overlays everything. There is nothing else.
Although time is short, it is got through not enjoyed. I worry that these times will eat up my memories of dad, well, walking, talking – and leave just this. Right now those happier times feel like a figment of my imagination in the face of this hard brute reality.
I miss him already. I miss sharing food wandering around the market. I miss what seemed like dull cooped up routines earlier in his sickness.
We are close. I want to stay close but when I let myself really feel and think from his perspective I cannot not break. How must it feel to wonder if this is the last look at the sky? to be so close to all you fear? to wonder how much more pain lies ahead and how much more dignity there is to be lost?
I don’t cry for hours like I used to – in fact I hardly cry at all and then only for moments. They are stumbled on shower bursts, water that doesn’t seem piped from my emotions. Nothing is released.
I am fine but not. The stress, the grief, is mostly invisible even to me and yet it rubs and wears, it corrodes me. At any moment I feel like it might break loose and scream my heart out. Maybe this stretched skin of me, so taut, so tense, will snap and leave the shadow bulk inside to live life in my place.
I no longer note the days since each passes with things I don’t want to write or admit I feel. The surface is calm, the slippery flat only disturbed by bubbles from all that is underneath.
Dad is worse. I have said that so many times and yet there was much worse to come.
He can only walk a few steps. He’s confused. He eyes roll. Worst of all we don’t really talk at all now. It seems he cannot think enough to speak and I need to keep all my thoughts, all I feel, an arm’s length away.