Callous Irony

Monday, December 29, 2014

Last night was a kind of a rough night. My dad was somewhat responsive Saturday morning. He opened his eyes when we called him, and when my mom pointed to me standing at the foot of the bed, he even looked towards me. It only lasted about a minute, but it seemed like he was making progress.

He hasn’t been responsive since then. Four visiting sessions in a row now, he’s been completely out. If you’re doing the math, I guess we’d call this one step forward and four steps back. So, we’re at minus-three if we’re keeping score.

Once we got back to the house we’re staying at (one of my dad’s friends, Tony, has very graciously offered to put us up), we started talking. My sister mentioned how there was so much stuff she wanted to say to him, and how hard it was knowing that she may not ever get to say these things to him. She wished that it didn’t have to happen so suddenly, that there was at least time to say… something… anything… before we may potentially have lost him for ever.

After a moment, though, the callous irony hit us….

Sure, it was sudden. Sure, my dad never knew (and probably still doesn’t) what hit him. And sure, we never got a chance to say what we wanted to say to him.

But from his perspective, it’s easier this way. At least he’s not suffering right now. At least he’s not going through the long ordeal of, say, losing a battle to cancer. Sure, the long, losing battle would give us time to say goodbye. It might even give us a chance to make peace with everything before losing him. But it also means months or even years of painful suffering.

It would have been easier for us, but not for him.

We still haven’t lost him, of course. Far from it, and I don’t want to sound so fatalistic. It’s just that… well, tonight was the first night we started considering the possibility of actually losing him.

And, you know what? If you have to go, this is probably the best way to go. I mean, it sucks for everyone else, but at least you won’t suffer.

2 thoughts on “Callous Irony

  1. I think understanding the fact that this is easier for him (than suffering from cancer, as you say), is the best way you can cope with this kind of traumatic loss. I say “loss” because while your dad hasn’t passed, it’s still a sudden loss of his easy presence in your lives. I can’t imagine how awful and scary and frustrating that must feel. Cope how you can. Try not to judge yourself too harshly. I (among hundreds of your other friends) will be keeping up hope on this end — it doesn’t cost us the way it tolls you. We’re here.

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  2. Dennis, I was diagnosed with a severe heriditary auto-immune disease that responds to my joints and low back with excessive inflammation. I feel like I were hit by a truck each day and I often think… How much longer do I have to pretend to be a happy 26 year old? I’m in the spinal state of a man who worked manual labor his entire life to age 75 and the most calming thought is knowing some day I won’t have to struggle to get out of bed. Struggle to stay happy and upbeat amongst my siblings. How selfish would it be for me to end my own misery? That’s the response that is given.

    Very enlightened of you to see your father is in pain. He loves you all the more and probably hates to be seen vulnerable. You have a great father. I know he will live on in you. Your advice to me cleared a mental fog I’d struggled with.

    Stay strong and bless you.

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