Thank you all for your love and support in regard to my Dad passing away. The past few weeks have been crazy and while we are trying to get back to our (new) normal, I haven’t been able to sit down and focus on writing a blog post. I think I just need to talk about my Dad on here before I move on to fall decor, recipes and the next project we’re going to be tackling in the house. While I don’t want this to be an overwhelming post it feels right to mention a few things before moving on to other blogs.
My Dad fought cancer for 4 years and 1 week (not that I was counting). Other than him losing weight, you would never know he was sick. He literally surprised his doctors time and time again, going through different surgeries, radiation and chemotherapies like a champion. Majority of the time I was worried sick about him while he didn’t seem to be too worried at all. In his mind, he was going to continue living his life as he normally would and there was no way he was going down without giving everything he had and then some.
He was a very simple man who loved a few things: myself and my brother Jake, playing golf, cooking, watching football and drinking beer. And margaritas, he made really good margaritas. He continued to do everything he loved throughout the four years he was living with this disease and never complained. I’d be worried after he had a chemo treatment and he’d send me a text of himself on the golf course finishing up 18. I’d be worried after he had a doctor appointment and he’d send me a picture of surf and turf he was making for himself that night.
While I know he was stressed and concerned and tired at times, he never, ever let the cancer define who he was. Even in hospice he was cracking jokes and he even got upgraded to a bigger room so he could have a football party for the first Jets game of the season.
People keep asking me if I’m getting back to normal after being up in New York with family for a few weeks. My world has changed forever, and so my old normal doesn’t exist anymore. To be totally honest, we knew the day he passed from this cancer would eventually come. While he was able to handle all of the treatments much better than many (his doctors told him time and time again that they’d never seen anyone power through the treatments like he did), there would be a time when they put simply, just wouldn’t work anymore. We thought we had more time, another year or two. A totally random stroke unfortunately made that time rapidly shrink to one week. I think it’s important to add here that he was unresponsive after the stroke and the doctors were telling my brother and I to say our last words to him. Until he whispered a little something and my brother got close to understand what he was saying. “Jets score.” That’s what he wanted to know 🙂
We are so fortunate that he came back from that stroke and for four days he was able to sit up in bed and have a normal conversation with us. We told stories about when we were young and he was reminiscing with my grandma and uncles about some very funny stories when they were kids.
But back to knowing this day would eventually come. I used to set little milestones in my head: Yay, Dad is here for my 30th birthday. Another Christmas I was able to spend with Dad. And our wedding, boy oh boy am I beyond grateful to have shared that time with him. It’s very obvious via pictures that it was the best weekend of his life (let alone mine and Mike’s!) and knowing that makes me insanely happy. He was able to visit us several times here in Charleston and he did all of the handyman things around the house while laughing at our inability to even hold a hammer properly. My 32nd birthday was while he was in the hospital and it was a combo of feeling awful because I knew it was my last with him to feeling insanely grateful that he was able to sing happy birthday with a big ol’ smile on his face.
It’s really weird living life knowing that someone you love dearly isn’t going to be alive for as long as they should be. He’d pull out of our driveway to head back up to New York and I would wonder if that would be his last visit here. I also overthink everything, but I have a feeling many people who are affected by cancer have these same thoughts.
I would sort of live in fear of getting bad news but then be very relieved at the end of each day when everything was still as it was.
When we got the call about him having a stroke Mike and I were on vacation in California. We immediately changed our plans and flew to New York and during that flight I kept thinking to myself, this is it. You’re told someone is terminally ill but they keep beating the odds. However one day it will all end, and that thought was always in the back of my mind. That time had come and I didn’t really know how to process it. I totally feared the day he would die but by those last few moments I was telling him that it was ok, he needed to go so he wouldn’t be suffering anymore. And within minutes of my brother and I telling him this, he let go. I think it’s the first time in my 32 years that he actually listened to me, and then he was at peace.
So now what? I don’t have to worry anymore and neither does my family, or my Dad. That may sound selfish but I mean it in the most loving way possible. Knowing that he was uncomfortable, worried or in pain, even though he never acted like it was the worst thing in the world. He isn’t dealing with doctors constantly, instead he’s probably up in heaven playing golf and drinking a beer. That makes me smile.
I feel like a piece of my heart is missing and no one will ever be able to fill that void. My mind, however, is full of memories. I am grateful, thankful and literally in awe of how composed, strong and resilient he was throughout this entire process. I am forever changed. Little complaints make me want to grab someone and shake them, telling them about how much my father endured during a time that was one million times harder than their crappy day.
Mike and I have already started traditions that we are going to implement into our lives on a regular basis to honor him. I’ll talk more about these in future posts, but they make me so happy. I am still adjusting to not being able to pick up the phone and call him but I know he is watching over me and I truly feel safer now. Trust me, if there’s anyone who is going to be a kickass guardian angel it is without a doubt my Dad. He is and always will be my hero. Superman has nothing on him.