today would be the day my papa left.
it is pretty powerful to see someone die. quite moving.
A few days before….
They tell you that when someone is dying they start to talk to their dead loved ones. that they have one foot in the current world and the other in the dead world. maybe not in those exact words but similar enough.
we watched my dad die. he talked to his dead parents. he hallucinated. the doctors told us it was not the medication. and i believed it. he had been with the same medication and there were no hallucinations as vivid and wild as there were in the last 72 hours of his life. the doctors told us it was the cancer spreading and it was because he was in ‘transition’.
now, i’m not a believer, but there are certain things that you want to believe to feel comfort and fuzzy and warm… BUT this was surreal.
as i fed my dad some water with a spoon (he was not able to suck on a straw anymore) i told him, “papa, its just me….i’m going to give you a little more water to hydrate you, ok?” he responded “no, my mom already gave me some.” so i told him, that his mom asked me to give him more. and he said “well, if it’s okay with my mom then i’ll take the water.”
the thing is …. he mumbled and barely opened his eyes and it took him about a minute to have this conversation. i gave him the water.
Today i drove east with tears in my eyes to my parents house. my sisters called early to say this was probably the day. all my sisters and mom were there at his bed side.
He was not in pain (we hoped). the nurse told us that he was comfortable. his meds were doing their job. he was not able to communicate anymore. nothing. he could hear us (we hoped). they told us to keep talking to him because he was still able to hear everything we said as he made his way to another place. we did not need to be told that. we talked to my dad all the time. so it was strange , yet comforting, to hear someone suggest that.
So my mother: she guided him the whole way with her hand and her words. i’m not leaving, i’m here holding your hand. Go see your parents. your girls are here with me and i’m okay. you just need to rest completely. don’t be afraid. her tears coming down hard and she was forgetting to breath.
me and my sisters: we caressed his face. we thanked him. we told him not to worry about us or mama. i babied him and caressed his forehead…like you do a baby when you want him to sleep. i shhh’d and hummed. we dropped tears on his blanket. we hated to see him like that. a skinny little man. frail and speechless. weak. trapped. what happened to our papa, we wondered?
at about 1450 in the afternoon he gave his last breath. and somehow, after a few minutes or so, we exhaled and all the tears came pouring out. buckets.
and mother: she still talked to him. held his hand. told him she’d meet him again….weeping. loudly.
my parents: they have been together since they were 15. he was 62. too young to die.
it sounds so simple in my words but the power of a person hallucinating, calling people, not knowing who you are…. the pauses in the breaths they take, the color of their skin changing right in front of you, the contrast between the warmth of their hands and the coolness of their face… the eye movement… all this was moving. wow, you are watching them die…
why do so many people die of cancer?