Friday, March 7, 2014

Still

I'm still here. Still doing it. Checking to see if dad is breathing, checking to see if I'm breathing. We're both breathing and I'm not sure either of us wants to be. We're listening to Willie Nelson and enjoying laborious and mostly spilled sips of water, and occasionally playing the most depressing game of charades in the history of mankind as I struggle to understand his last requests.

Thankfully, hospice is full of real, live grown-ups. Upon this realization, the complete terror abated for the most part but it's still lurking around, reminding me that this is scary and horrible and we can't do it, even while we're doing it. While trying to fall asleep on my roll away bed at the foot of his, I would find myself hoping he would still be here in the morning and then praying that he wouldn't. This constant push and pull of the inevitable and what is the best for him, and the unthinkable and what is the best for me. Hoping for the end seems both insane and humane.

On the advice of the pamphlets they keep bestowing on us, I've told him he can go. I've promised him that what's next is a great adventure, and that he already won this fight and it's time for the next big thing. Last night he told me he had to go, and I thought maybe we were finally on the same page so I said, "Yes, you should go. Go ahead and go, dad, we've got it covered here," but then he asked where the car was and was trying to get up. I told him he was being picked up and that he was ready, that whenever he wanted, he could go. But I guess his ride still isn't here.

The hospice people are so nice. Sometimes I'm unsure if they are trying to keep me company or if they need me to keep them company. Okay, I'll pet your therapy dog, I say more for their sake than mine, wishing my hands weren't about to smell like dog. Okay, we can say a prayer, I say before retreating back to my own thoughts as they start. Okay, we can talk about how long I've lived here or the island I grew up on, if you want. I've even considered crying for their sake, because I sense an air of concern and expectation that I should. I encourage my mom to run her errands in the morning so she can miss these well-intentioned but exhausting social endeavors. These are good people, these are amazing people, I am just not capable of being one of them right now and luckily, I'm sure they understand.

And every few minutes, I think, "Oh God." It's not a prayer, or a plea, or an admonishment. It's more like my new version of breathing. I've tried actual praying but it doesn't bring me any peace. Instead I visualize every loved one I've ever lost, in every minute detail I can recall, each one of them individually, and then I beg them as a group to please come get my dad. That if I've ever needed them, if he's ever needed them, if we've ever needed them, it's now. That we're tired and we can't do this and to please come now and save us all.

And I spill water on him and ask, "What did you say?" so often that I cringe to hear it and sit here and listen to Willie Nelson with my dad while we wait for his ride.

I dread its arrival, with every ounce of my being, and yet I hope it comes soon.

18 comments:

Nova said...

I don't want to get into my own thing here in your comment box but I can fully understand the wishing he would go and the awful craziness of that thought. There's no take-backs once it happens. But if it's inevitable you just want it to HAPPEN ALREADY. I am so sorry about your dad and that you're in that position.

Jamie McGinnis said...

When we were doing hospice for my grandma and we knew it was going to be fairly soon friends and family started coming. My aunts and I each sat on different sides of her bed and shared our own stories about Gran. Every so often she would have a second of lucidity and laugh at a story or nod her head to make a short comment. For me it was really fun to hear all the different stories and to talk about them around her. I knew she could still hear us and understand some of what we were talking about and she got to hear all our memories and we laughed about them.

It was heartbreaking to watch because she would wake up and wonder why she was still here and we wanted to much to help her go but just couldn't. It was hard but it was also a blessing when it happened - no pain, no lack of control. However, it was not a parent that passed so that I can't imagine <3

Death is hard but cancer is a dirty word :(

Caitlin said...

Jesus, Ashley, this was beautiful and heartwrenching all at the same time. I don't think enough people talk about caregiving/the end of life in such an honest way. I hope it's helpful to you to get these thoughts out in this incredibly difficult time. So sorry again for all that's happening, and I'm sending you so many good vibes and thoughts.

Caitlin said...

Also your last sentence reminded me of when my dad was caring for my grandmother in her last days (she was in her 90s). She called him to her house from his job (about 30-40 miles away), sat him down and said, "Danny, I'm ready to go. I want to go to sleep and I want God to take me." He said he felt such a wave of relief that she was ready. He misses her like crazy, I know, but I think he found a lot of solace in that moment.

Sasha said...

Oh Ashley..... I'm so sorry. Mr. Sasha went through this very thing a few years ago and it's heart-wrenching. I am thinking of you and praying for you. ((hugs))

Amanda said...

Oh Ashley,

Praying for you and your dad. It's freaking hard, and it sucks. ((Hugs)) to you.

Susie Q said...

I'm one of those jerks (I was going to use a more appropriate word but felt it didn't fit with the tone of this post) that's read your blog for years and maybe commented once. I just wanted to say I'm so sorry you're going through this. I went through this exact same situation with my grandmother 2 years ago. It's so hard to want to keep them with you forever but also understand they are ready to go. Thinking of you and your family.

Renee said...

I think I'm having trouble submitting comments on my phone. Either that, or this is my 3rd comment. :-) Anyway, I want you to know I'm with you -- you're on my mind and in my heart, and I'm sitting with you, breathing with you. Hugging you and holding your hand. Love you.

Renee

Mom Taxi Julie said...

I remember those days with my Grandma. My mom was in your position and I was lucky enough to be able to pop in and out and then cry all the way home. ((hugs))

Marcelle said...

I wish I had words to bring you peace right now, but instead just know that I'm thinking of you and hoping he goes peacefully when he's ready.

queenOprincesstrio said...

I am so sorry, Ash. How sad. and scary. And so sad. Losing a parent, despite the history, is so hard. I am thinking about you, and praying for peace for you both, and a pain free journey for your dad. Big hugs.

Shannon

Fluffy Windover said...

I am so, so, sorry. this totally sucks.

Unknown said...

You are such a beautiful and honest writer. I hope you and Dad find peace soon.

Jennifer

duhneese said...

Honored that you share this extremely difficult time with us and still amazed by the eloquence with which you do it. I hope it brings you some peace as the words flow.

binajabber said...

Sending you a huge virtual hug. And thank you for sharing so openly of yourself. Your words are heartwrenching and yet so very beautiful.

Unknown said...

Ashley, I am so very sorry about what you are all going through. I wish it didn't have to be this way. I'm glad you've had the chance to feel more connected to your Dad. I can only imagine how you must be feeling. Just know you are in my thoughts and prayers.

Amy xoxo

Lisa said...

I'm in your neck of the woods this week, and looking at the blue skies and clear waters, and smelling the sea and the fresh growing things...it just doesn't seem right that there are sad things happening too. I wish it was different. Thinking of you.

Rachel said...

I don't really have any words that could help in any way but just want you to know that I pray for you and your family and wish you at least some moments of peace during this heart-wrenching time. Your writing is beautiful, even on difficult situations and I appreciate you sharing this journey. Thinking of you....