The month of February brings it's own set of distractions and emotional challenges for me. Even though I find myself on the other side of the world, entrenched in a different culture/language/environment, my thoughts are often drifting back to my family back home. My protective nature leads me to worry about my Mom and siblings as I wonder how they are coping this month? The month of February brings with it the date of my Dad's passing and some of my most cherished and heart wrenching memories of the last few weeks of my Dad's life. The 26th of February marks the two year anniversary and I find comfort in knowing that my mom will be surrounded by our never failing support system. But still i wish i could be there.
I still replay the same questions over and over in my head trying to recreate an alternative outcome. Should we have avoided the radiation? The chemotherapy? One and not the other? Would Dad have lived longer without the interference of modern medicine? Should we have tried more alternative medicine? What would have happened if he was diagnosed sooner? What about this? Or that? It's exhausting! An answer is never to be found!
One thing is for sure, my Dad could do nothing more than base all of his decisions on the knowledge that he had at the time; with the main goal to fight! All we as a family could do is trust and support his decisions. Dad knew it was a losing battle the moment he heard the diagnoses "esophagus cancer" (google was unfortunately too reliable in
this instance) but he fought for more time. He fought for his family so that they could live another month/week/day without being faced with the grief of losing a husband/father. And as the end drew near Dad asked that we not be angry with him when he was no longer able to hold on. I told Dad with confidence that we would be okay as i knew that their would be love and support around us when we needed it. Dad ensured that we were always surrounded by awesome, positive people.
My most cherished memory of my Dad is what I consider to be my "movie" moment. Let me set the scene for when Dad presented his words of wisdom. Dad was in the hospital and had just finished signing a DNR (which solidified the reality of the situation). Alexis had just been called home from Saskatoon due to Dads declining health. Alexis walked in the room first with me quick at her heels. When Dad looked up and saw Alexis standing there, he had a huge smile on his face and his eyes welled up with tears (surprised to see her and relieved to have the family all together I am sure). The three of us held each other in a long embrace. Alexis and I sat with Dad and I asked "What can I do for you?" (expecting him to ask for a glass of water or something). Instead he answered with "Be happy. Finish school, fall in love, get married, and have children. Just be happy. And take care of your mother." So those are the last words of advice that I take from my Dad and that is what I hope for myself and the rest of my
family. I will strive everyday to be happy and to live a fulfilling life and I hope that, through doing so, I will make my Dad proud. So as I continue the rest of my year long adventure I will think of my Dad often and know that he will guide and protect me. And during my time in India, I strive to find a balance between taking care of myself and giving myself to others.
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