It's been a month since my dad died. Three days from now should have been his 70th birthday. My sister and I wanted to have a party, a card shower, put together scanned photos from his past to honor seven decades of life--a milestone. Cancer stole our chance.
We found out about the cancer last October when Dad hurt himself working on the combine during harvest. The scan to make sure his hernia hadn't caused internal hemorrhaging showed cancer in his lungs. More tests showed it in his liver; in vertebrae of his neck. Stage IV adenocarcinoma--a glandular cancer that might have started in his lungs since he'd been a smoker when he was younger. Radiation took care of the cancer in his vertebrae. He tried chemotherapy and, after his first round, almost died from bacterial pneumonia that was resistant to antibiotics. That was just after Christmas.
Slowly, Dad improved. None of us kids could get him to eat when we tried to care for him at home, but in the nursing home, he flourished. And he brought that place to life. He spoke to everyone; knew each by name and included them in conversations. He participated in the group activities and traded stories with his roommate, George.
Sometimes I find myself wishing we hadn't found out about the cancer. I think of all the things Dad wanted to do and couldn't after chemo--places he wanted to visit, shows he wanted to see at the Lied--and how little time the treatment bought him. If he hadn't been fighting cancer, he would have been living his life. And yet, he didn't seem to see it that way. He needed to fight as much as he needed to laugh and swap stories with everyone who crossed his path. I'm like that, too.
I've compartmentalized my life these last few months, plunging into work as if nothing's happening outside it, and forgetting work altogether to spend time with Dad. I've avoided blogging because everything I might say here seemed trivial compared to what we were living, and I didn't want to share anything this personal with the world at large. But here it is, a coming out of sorts. I miss my dad.