With Dave not here, and my Father not living, I am feeling empty inside.
It sounds extreme, I know, but it is how I feel. There is a never ending guilt that rips me apart, and before you read this I will warn you: IT IS NOT A HAPPY STORY.
I want to wish my husband, best friend and confidant (oddly, all the same person) a happy Father’s Day across the ocean. You have no idea how bad I need you now.
A friend and I were talking the other night and she asked me how my Dad died. I wanted to say “cancer,” but so much came flowing from me, I ended up in tears- wondering why I couldn’t stop this ache in my heart. I was in pain, knowing I would miss Dave and my Dad this year. I don’t think I can take missing more than just my Dad.
Being that I was 13, this is how I remember my Father’s illness and passing. It was a long time coming, but only a short diagnosis period. It was painful, and carried the stench of chemicals and death. I sometimes catch a scent that turns my stomach and brings back wretched memories of the medicinal smells you will only find in the oncology unit.
My Dad ate Tums by the jug- those BIG ones you could only get at Sam’s Club in the 90’s. He was diagnosed with acid reflux for 2 years. I used to go to the doctor with him sometimes (you gotta bring your kids places) and once a nurse couldn’t find his pulse. I’m not kidding. The look of uneasiness on her face- even a 12 year old could feel how unnerved she was. It was the scariest thing I’d ever experienced.
When my parents came home on my 13 birthday (Monday, November 10, 1997) with a diamond and tanzanite ring, no cake, no card, and my Dad gave it to me alone, with red eyes embodying his usually bright brown eyes, I knew. Somehow I knew he was going to die. That Wednesday (November 12th) we were all sitting at UPENN’s hospital. I asked what surgery he was getting. My mom said “a tube for chemo”. I answered “but you only get chemo if you have cancer.” No one said anything. My Dad called me before surgery in the family waiting room. I told him I loved him and laid my head down on my Mom’s lap.
He died April 21, 1998.
He tried to leave the room, like a dog. To die alone. He was walked back. It was the first time he’d moved in days. The night before I heard a doctor tell my mom he wasn’t sure if my Dad would live through the night. The next day my Dad was moved to hospice. I didn’t know what hospice was. I thought it was just another ward.
When he got up, I thought it was a good thing.
Someone kept repeating “tell him it’s OK.” Everyone did but me. So I chimed in. My face pressed into his ear. I let the words slip, “it’s OK.”
And he was gone.
I’d let him go and he went. The fluid stopped gurgling in his chest and his body rested into the bed.
What did I do?
I’ve asked myself that question for years- no amount of therapy can change it. I said it was OK. And he went.
Dad, I miss you so bad. I wish you were here to tell you what a great job you did. Really! We are all OK. We aren’t perfect, but we are Worth’s. I want to tell you how much I love you. I want you to tell me you love me, too. I want you to meet your granddaughter and son-in-law. I want you to shake his hand and love him like a son. I want to see you bring Addie to her first Flyers’ game. I’m sorry you had to go. I’m sorry I told you it was OK. It wasn’t. I need you. I love you.
Happy Father’s Day to the man who hung the moon.
An amazing father…