My words went dormant at some point this year. My fingers did not feel the urge to translate or express feelings into a picture on paper. I thought that somehow I must have locked away particular emotions that have freely flowed since my father had his stroke six plus years ago. I shut or locked away any and all emotions associated with his death. He was now actively dying and I was forced to helplessly watch him wither away until he became a small pale, weak and fragile human being. Polar opposite to my dad… A large, dark and strong dominant man.
I sat down and decided I was ready to open my latched box and set free all that has been pushed into the dark recesses of my heart. A problem occurred, there wasn’t anything bottled up to release. Imagine my shock and guilt when nothing puked forth. What was wrong with me? What kind of awful person and daughter must I be? Yes, there was sadness accompanied by relief that his suffering was over but nothing like I thought I would feel. Then it hit me, I stopped writing my thoughts and emotions during this time because I was expressing them as they naturally came to the surface. I had accepted and come to terms with such an ugly truth. His truth, my truth…our truth.
I thank you for looking at the picture my fingers have painted and I understand if you have to look away when the strokes become dark and ugly. Blending of all colors formed this canvas of truth.
My father passed peacefully on January 10th 2021, Sunday at sunset, with his one true love and three daughters standing vigil. A perfect and poetic storybook ending ever written, however, it is the pages in-between that keep me up at night.
It was said in condolences that “it was merciful that he passed”, to this fact I agree, “because he had no real quality of life the last couple years”, to this I disagree. Yes, to some it may indeed seem that way, especially if you deem physical independence the only type of a real quality life. Prior to this experience, I too would have a similar opinion. No longer do I believe this to be true.
The raw truth for every one of us is death. You are born into this world alive and you leave it dead. Nothing of monetary value that you accumulate while living can save you from the circle of life putting you back into the cycle. We all run our course, some even unfairly sooner and much sadder then others, so no matter what fate deals out in your hand, it is, in fact, the end. I say this with brutal truth and sincerity in my belief that when you die all that is taken with you and left behind is the love or hate you are choosing to carry.
The years leading up to the last weeks of my dads life, I shared a quality of life with him like no other. I know that if fate hadn’t dealt him the hand he was forced to live with then I would have missed out on choosing to see love and compassion at its best. I would have missed tender and intimate moments of kindness. I would have missed the opportunity to show him how much I love him. I would have missed witnessing the sacrifices made by others because their love was so strong for him.
I was forced to watch him suffer and slowly be defeated into an immobilized body stricken with pain, trapped inside fully aware of what is happening to his mind and body. His dignity as a man and human being was stripped away from him one piece at a time. Slowly needing to rely on someone for his every need. Knowing the moment he entered his bed to never see another room in the house that was his home for over 60 years. Accepting he will never again sail another ocean or run a river against the wind. Feeling frightened when faces lose names and words no longer make sense. Skin becomes so thin it tears with just a touch. Only small bites of soft foods can be forced down because all taste and desire is gone. In the last days only the proper dose of relief filled his now shrunken belly. Dreams were slowly replaced with living memories that would show haunt in his eyes or a moment of happiness on his face. Calling out to faces or reaching for a hand that is no longer here. I know others have been forced to witness these same things with a loved one, I’m not alone, but having to process all that you are feeling and then speak its truth is one of the hardest things to do because it’s so painful. It is as real as it gets.
Fate forces us all to watch the inevitable but it is our choice what we see or choose to embrace. The painful and ugly facts of life are mixed with kindness, compassion, love and the acceptance of what you can not change. I saw my fathers one true love in life give all that she had to his very last breath and stood side by side with my sisters as we watched him leave his body and finally go home to be with his mother, the woman that loved him the most.
I have no regrets in my fathers death, only a new outlook on how I will choose to live the rest of my life all thanks to A Stroke of Love….
This will be the final post about my father.
I will miss you for as long as the rivers run and oceans carry the wind. I love you and know that you loved me.
Below are links to my posts from the beginning of this journey