My BFF, Jo, had a baby girl at 11:03 a.m this morning. Evangeline Rose Garrett was 8 lb 8 oz (same as Blake) and 19 1/2 in. long. I bet she's beautiful, but I haven't seen a pic yet. This is Jo's second little girl. I guess she was meant to have girls and I was meant to have boys. Go figure. She always did call me Outdoor Ed (for my major in college) and I called her Indoor Jo. She's such a great mom, especially to girls. Congrats Jo and Jamie (her husband). I can't wait to meet her.
Sorry Robbie, I didn't forget...just stalling. Dad's memorial service was held at the Church of the Good Shepherd, an episcopal church, in Augusta on Monday, April 21 at 5:00 pm. It was actually much like a normal episcopal service, very liturgical. The family and clergy processed into the church to "Be Thou My Vision." As I said before, this was the same song Dad walked me down the aisle to just 7 short years ago. The chapel was filled to the brim with friends, colleagues, and family. This is what dad would have wanted to see...how many people were there, and I'm sure he would have taken note of who was and wasn't there. He would have been pleased...mostly. The rest is truly a blur. The minister spoke, the congregation sang, and I wept. Dad's ashes sat on the altar in a simple box, but I never saw them.
A few months before he died, Dad had asked Alan Faulkner, the chaplain for Dr. Schlaer, to speak at his funeral. So he did. I can't tell you what he said, but I remember it being very good, especially since Dad wasn't the most spiritual of men. As per one of his blog entries, Dad requested "Into the Woods My Master Went" to be sung. A very sweet woman by the name of Barbara sung it and did an excellent job.
Even though I sat with Sherry and Barbara (yes the same one that sang) the night before Dad died and picked out the scriptures to be read and songs to be sung, it's still a blur. The last hymn sung was "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee." But I don't remember feeling joyful at all. The visitation followed which consisted of us standing in a receiving line which seemed like a mile long. I am so thankful to have been in Augusta the weeks prior to his death. Not only because I got to spend time with Dad, but also because I got to be part of their life there in Augusta. I would have never known any of the people in that line if I hadn't come, such great people too. It was assuring to me to know that Sherry has such a great support system.
After the visitation, family and friends gathered at my Dad's house. Dad would have loved that part; a hundred people or so all in one place talking about him. He might not have cared much about the service itself. It was the people, the stories, the memories that honored him the most.
Merriam-Webster defines a hero as a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability; an illustrious warrior; a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities; one that shows great courage.
For the purpose of today's rantings, I'd like to focus on the last definition of the word hero; one that shows great courage. And then I would like to suggest that unless your a flat out coward, we're all heroes at some point in time. When you face paralyzing fear and conquer it, you become a hero.
Why am I talking about heroes? I've heard this term recently used to describe myself in regards to the last month I spent with my dad. I don't feel like a hero, at least not in the sense of a mythological or legendary figure of divine decent (though my mom and dad might have argued that point) endowed with great strength or ability. Of course, I'd be flattered if they came out with a Hillary Pennington bobble head or a bust of my head, but you get my point. Honestly I believe that someone else in my situation and with the same opportunities (a fabulous mother-in-law willing to watch my kids day in and day out and a husband willing to let us go for an unknown period of time) would do the same thing. In fact, my sister Becca once said that Sherry and I must be the strongest people in the world because she didn't think she could do it. I think she could. Sure it would be scary at first, but she could have done it. Heck, she has three kids...she tackles her fears everyday. If she had to, she would have been there. I believe that. Same goes for my other two siblings. My circumstances simply allowed me to be able to drop everything and go to Augusta. And I have no regrets (I get that I keep saying that).
So sure, I'm a hero because I conquered my fears. When I left Maryland 5 weeks ago, I had three main fears: 1) seeing my dad in the state of weakness, 2) my dad dying without knowing the Lord, and 3) dealing with my family in general. Those fears could have kept me from going. In fact as I got in the car to drive away, tears welled up and a knot appeared in my throat. Literally, I was pushing through the fear (more like praying through it).
This brings me to the source of my heroism...the grace and strength of God. You had to know that was coming. There is no other way to explain it. How else could I sit in that hospital room day after day taking care of my dad whom I wasn't sure, at times, if he would live or die? And once it was clear that he was dying, I almost had to remove myself emotionally from the situation just so I could get through the day. Maybe that's why it still seems so surreal, almost like it didn't happen. Somehow I have to get past the last month, past the last year even, to a place where I can just remember my dad and not the frail shadow of himself. When I close my eyes, I still see him lying in the hospital bed, gone. Maybe this is the cost of heroism. Isn't there always a cost? If there wasn't, then why would it require courage?
Back to my sister, Becca, for a second. I called her the night after my dad's surgery, over a week before he passed, and told her I thought she should come. It wasn't looking good. She told me that she wasn't sure she wanted to see Dad in that state. She didn't want to remember him like that. Still, she came, both for herself and for him. I'm glad she did, because through out the day, he got better. Sue Estes, a family friend, came in and fixed him all up, a good shave, combed hair, brushed teeth. By the time Becca left, Dad was doing and looking ten times better then when she came. This was the last time she saw him. She conquered her fear and that makes her a hero in my book.
Do you see what I mean? We're all heroes, and so was my dad. So I salute you heroes, all of you. Don't let fear and trepidation keep you from being what you are called to be. "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10
Sometimes it takes life's darkest circumstances to energize us enough to moved. Through this experience with my dad, I've discovered how much I love to write, despite a lack of confidence in my ability. However, I continue to come back to what I would write about. It's not like I have an expertise in any one area, but I do love to watch television. I appreciate a show with good writing, even if others would frown upon my choices (like One Tree Hill). Before going to Augusta five weeks ago, I wasn't prepared to put forth any effort to write. I simply thought that if I somehow got discovered, then so be it...I'd write. My dad's response to that? I can see him now, "Nothing comes that easily Hillary. Now get off your butt and make something happen." Okay, maybe he wouldn't use those exact words, but he'd say something to that affect and then follow with a long story about his own hardships of entry level mayhem. Dad was a successful and talented writer who worked hard to get where he was, and he never let a "no" get in his way. It's not like he majored in journalism, but in the end, he was doing exactly what he loved; playing, writing, and getting paid for it.
So what if I don't have any experience in writing scripts? So what if I don't live in LA (and have no desire to for that matter)? So what if I have two small children who demand every last ounce of sweat from my brow? Would David Foster have let any of that stop him from pursuing his dream? Nope, and he didn't. In fact, if I had thought of this earlier, he would have moved mountains (if he could) to help me make my dream come true. That's the kind of man he was. In college, I was an Outdoor Education major. I mentioned to Dad that I needed to get a tent, sleeping bag, and backpack for my backpacking class. He just made it happen (thank you, by the way, to whoever his contact was at Kelty). He offered to set me with a job on an Alaskan cruise ship for a summer, but I declined (stupid, stupid Hillary) claiming I was too busy. That last sentence has absolutely nothing to do with the purpose of today's blog, but I just thought of it and wanted to mention it. The point is that I don't want to live with regrets. I have none when it comes to my dad (except not taking that Alaska opp), but that doesn't mean I don't have any in general. There are plenty, and I don't want not writing (or at least trying) to to be one of them.
So what now? I don't know. Maybe I'll take a class or workshop on script writing for television. Man, now would be the time to have some contacts; somebody to guide me in the right direction. I've been searching google, which is normally so helpful, and haven't found much of anything. I know there are probably a million opportunities right here in my area. It's not like a live in the sticks. I just need to find them, but how? Not a rhetorical question, by the way. I'm not looking for a quick fix, though I wouldn't turn one down.
In the meantime, I'll continue to bless y'all with my inner ramblings. Who knows? Maybe I'll have an epiphany, a vision, some subject I'm passionate enough about to fill the pages of a book. Until then...
This was a tribute that Gray's Sporting Journal did for my dad. It was supposed to be played during the visitation, but we were having some technical difficulties. I thought you might enjoy seeing what my dad (and me as a kid) looked like.
A reader of my dad's blog asked me to describe the memorial service in a bit more detail. I'll try to get to that tomorrow. Just wanted you to know that I'm on it.
It's been 10 days since my dad passed. I'm back in Maryland attempting to reassimilate into my old life. Leaving Augusta, I literally felt like I was moving, exchanging one world for another. Though it is a familiar world, it still seems so foreign. As my friend Jen said, it's an opportunity for a fresh start; a new schedule, a clean house (thanks to Katy & Clare who cleaned my house, did my laundry, and stocked my fridge), a fresh perspective on life. But what I found yesterday, my first full day back, is that it's not as easy as it sounds. I feel lost, like I'm mentally and emotionally trapped between two worlds. My only goal yesterday was to clean out the car and unpack my suitcase. Clearly I didn't accomplish it, or maybe my tone today would be more peppy (who uses that word anymore?).
Today I'm taking my boys to the zoo with some friends of mine. I'm going to go, but ever since I committed to it, I keep wanting to back out. I'm not sure why, but it probably has something to do with all this confusion and emotional mess I find myself in. Reassimilating has just as much to do with reacquainting myself with my friends (and Owen's friends) as it does unpacking my suitcase. Maybe that's the problem; maybe, subconsciously, I feel like if I fully settle back into my life here then I've finished the last chapter and I'm not sure I'm ready to let go of that yet. Better yet, I'm not sure I'm ready to let go of him yet. I realize, consciously, that moving on with my life doesn't mean I have to let go completely. I'll never fully let go. It just feels like that.
The trip home was good. Neil took Owen, so I just had Blake and the dog. I took some time, and minutes, to catch up with some friends. As I was talking to Angela about the service, something occurred to me that both broke my heart and made me smile. As the family processed into the church, the mourners were singing "Be Thou My Vision." I knew at the time that this was the same song that I had walked down the aisle to at my wedding, but then, while talking with Angela, I realized that my dad had walked me down the aisle to that very song almost 7 years ago. So, now, every time I hear this old hymn, I will not only think about the joy of my wedding, but also the sadness of losing the man who gave me away at it. Ironically, I chose that song for the procession; I just didn't realize that we would be processing as well. I thought it would just be the clergy people (not sure what they call them in the episcopal church). Since I don't believe in coincidence, I can only conclude that God simply saw an opportunity to give me something special to treasure in my heart, triggered by a beautiful hymn. What a gift!
It's almost 8 and I need to run by Target (I missed my Target) to get coffee before heading for the zoo. For those of you that read my dad's blog, I'd love for you to stay in touch. Nothing touched me more then to read the hundreds of comments that came in over the last week. It's encouraging to me (and was to my dad) to know that so many people were inspired, and even found comfort, through his words. He thought the world of all of you. Sherry and I are hoping to turn his blogs into a book so that his legacy won't end with us, but will continue to encourage future warriors to engage in battle and win the war.
There is a flood, a flood of prayer and support, sweet tea and wine, cheese trays and flower arrangements, family and friends. Thank you all for your kind words of encouragement. It's been a rough 24 hours...heck, it's been a rough 3 1/2 weeks, but I wanted you all to know that I'm surviving...grieving and coping in my own way, working through what still seems so surreal to me. As much as I try to wrap my brain around it, I can't! Even when I saw him lying in that bed, nothing left but the shell of a broken body, it didn't seem real. I'm not going to pretend to understand death, or life for that matter. I'm thankful for the time I had with him, especially over the last three weeks. I have no regrets. But I miss my daddy. I see him everywhere I look. Yesterday, I was moving a plant to make room for a flower arrangement. I placed it on my dad's dresser and saw his pipes...enough said. I'm glad that Neil will be here today. I missed him. And I'm ready to have my family together again, despite the circumstances.
I realize that most of you didn't know my dad, but the Augusta Chronicle did a tribute on him today. You can see it here: http://chronicle.augusta.com/stories/041608/met_195259.shtml
Neil and I are going to take the kids to Warner Robins Friday and go to my cousin's wedding on Saturday. Since the memorial service isn't until Monday, it would be a good distraction for me, and I get to see the rest of my family (mom's side). So Shan, call me and let's do coffee Sat AM.
Thank you again! And yes Katy, I love that idea. It would be extremely helpful as I attempt to reassimilate into my old life.
Words escape me, and I have nothing eloquent to say. I just wanted you all to know that my dad, David Crawford Foster, passed away this morning around 9:45 am. He went peacefully and was not in any pain. That's all I can say for now. Please feel free to email me or comment on the blog, but I would appreciate if you could refrain from calling me for now. Thank you!
I am so blessed to have such an amazing support net. So many of you have joined me in this journey by reading my blog & my dad's, by calling and sending emails, and most importantly, by praying. I continue to covet your prayers. God has given supernatural strength to come this far, and He'll carry me through to the end and beyond. I'm not saying it isn't hard. This is the most difficult event I've been through in my life, and it's a first. I've never lost anyone this close to me. Planning the memorial service seemed so surreal to me and to Sherry (my step-mom). Actually the whole thing is surreal to me, almost like it's happening to someone else. I'm just on the outside looking in. It's amazing to me how God wired us to cope with the difficult areas of life, the pain and the struggles, the confusing and unknown. He lifts us up and sustains us, much like Aaron and Hur did for Moses in the book of Exodus. You have one arm and He has the other. When my strength fails, as it does constantly, it's comforting to know that I'm not alone and that I don't have to rely on my weak strength to get by.
Inside my heart is breaking, slowly, and I much as I would like to be numb and not feel the pain, I realize the pain is part of the healing process. Like when I had my boys, it was physically painful and emotionally exhausting. I could have had the epidural, but I wanted to feel it. Of course at the end of that experience came life. And though this is the polar opposite, I realize that pain is a necessary evil and tears help heal.
I have to say how honored I was that Dad asked me to update his blog. I didn't get it at the time. Looking back, I see how important that blog is to my dad and the fact that he would entrust it to me, touched the deepest part of my soul. I hope some of you have gone and read, not what I wrote, but what he wrote. His words inspire thousands; people battling cancer, caretakers struggling to be strong, and loved ones who have lost those they most care about. This is his legacy, the accomplishment and notariety he strived for all his life. The plan is take his blogs and compile them into a book, a memoir of sorts, so that he can continue to inspire, encourage, and bring laughter to fellow warriors for gernerations to come.
At this point, the plan is to have the memorial service on Monday here in Augusta. I should be home shortly thereafter. We're going to ask that in lieu of flowers people can make a donation to the American Cancer Society. In May, I'm going to host a Pampered Chef fundraiser at my house in memory of my dad. All proceeds, including my commission, will go to the ACS. I think it's time I become part of the solution, a fellow warrior battling against a disease thought incurrable. I hope that you'll consider joining me.
"For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing." II Timothy 4:7-8
I can't think of better words to describe my Dad. He might not have lived a very spiritual life, or talked much about his faith, and I can't say for sure when he came to have a relationship with Christ. But I choose to believe that in the past few days, weeks or months, he has come to faith. I have peace with that, and I know that it doesn't matter how long you've known Jesus in this life, trapped inside this temporal body. If you profess, you will receive the crown of righteousness.
My dad's battle with cancer is coming to an end...imminently. I guess I knew in my heart, though I hoped not, that when I came down here, I would be here for the end. It's been a roller coaster over the past three weeks, but I wouldn't trade it in for the world. There have been tears, but there has also been laughter. For a few days last week, Dad was getting better, recovering. He was still confused and out of sorts, but he was still dad with his uncanny sense of humor and his love of life. In those days, he didn't even remember that he had cancer. What a blessing...to see my dad in his purest form.
Thank you all for your prayers and support. I continue to covet them, and I know, for those of you that are in Maryland, I will need them even more so when I get home and return to a life I haven't lived in for almost a month.
Some people have asked for an address for me down here: Hillary Pennington C/O Cathy Pennington 605 Kettle Creek Drive Grovetown, GA 30813
I'll let you know when he passes and what will happen next.
I was just reading the comments from my last entry, and felt compelled to post a little something before I head off to church. Thank you! Thank you Candace for being willing to share your own story with a complete stranger. Your words brought me comfort that I am not alone, and though I know this intellectually, it's always good to hear from someone who had been through this and came out on the other side. (especially someone in my age and stage) Thank you Tre and Heidi for your encouraging words. I realize it's been a while, a long while, since I last saw you guys, but family is always family. And I appreciate the support. I have a feeling I will see you both real soon.
And thank you Kim for allowing my dad to live out his dream in your life. Ever since I can remember, my dad has wanted to be an accomplished writer. He may not have ever published a book, but the words from his blog will live on as his legacy. I sincerely hope that one day his words, his story, his struggle will be made into a book, a memoir of sorts, to be preserved for future generations of people who struggle with this horrible tormentor we call cancer.
These comments have brought me to tears, but they're not tears of sadness (okay, maybe a little), but tears of comfort. For those of you that read my dad's blog, please know that I intend to update it tomorrow morning after we see Dr. Schlaer. I just don't want to misspeak.
Normally words flow freely from my head and heart, but today, they've failed me. Sometimes I struggle with the words to use or how to phrase an idea, but that is not the case. I simply don't know what to say because I don't know what is going on. What we thought was a reaction to medication is looking more like something else...we just don't know what that something else is. The edema is spreading and the urine output is nonexistent. His billy-rubin levels are high, and his breathing is heavy due to the build up of fluid in his body. I desperately want to hope that he'll get better, but I'm not so sure. I'm not sure at all.
It's easy to take care of someone when they are getting better, recovering, but the last couple of days have been the most difficult. Sherry and I are thankful for the good days we've had; they were full of laughs. But when the laughter ceases, the difficulty begins.
I stayed at dad's house last night, in his bed to be exact, and all around me were pieces of him. It was so weird to think that he wouldn't use these things again. The idea of death still doesn't make a lick of sense to me. I get the whole fall of man and temporal body, but it just doesn't compute. How can someone be there one day and not the next?
Mike Carraway is a friend of my dad's and at lunch the other day he told me that he was certain of my dad's eternity. A few months ago, he had a conversation with dad about Jesus and all things Heavenly, and he walked away from that conversation with confidence that dad believed in his heart that Jesus Christ lived, died, and defeated death for his salvation. Of course I wish that I could have had that conversation and certainty, but I'm hopeful that God answered my prayer through Mike, my prayer for peace (not only for my dad, but also for myself). The truth is that you can never really know where someone else stands, except when we arrive there ourselves. When I approach the pearly gates, assuming they exist, I expect to see my dad there waiting for me. Not sure what heaven is like, but I believe we our still ourselves, just not in these broken bodies. We have to be; we have to recognize the people who have touched our lives, who've made us who was are in this world. Imagine a world without chaos, without the complications of sin, disease, and misfortune...I know I can't. Those concepts evade me, but I trust that it's there and it will be perfect, peaceful, and exciting.
I know I need to put something on Dad's blog, but I really don't know what to say. The people that read his blog are connected to him, care about him, and inspired by him. They are survivers, caretakers, and fellow warriors. How do you tell them that he is losing the battle they all hope to win? Dad writes to them in the positive, glass half full approach, and right now, nothing I have to say is positive. But I could be wrong too. I don't think I am, but I could be. So what if I get them all worked up, just to find that I was wrong? I guess then I would have some good news to write, huh? Maybe I'll find the words a little later today, but for now, it took everything I had to just write this.
I'll lead with the same thing I did on Dad's blog this morning: In the process of recovery, there are good days, okay days, and bad days. This is an okay day. Remember how I was telling you about the "fog" yesterday? Well, it didn't lift much yesterday, and it's worse today. We found out that the nurse gave him Adovan two nights ago. Now, in good health, that stuff will send him into a loop for two full days. But in recovery mode, apparently, it just puts him down for the count. I can't say that it's not concerning, because it is, but I hope that as the medicine wears off, we'll see clear skies again.
Right now, he's sitting in the chair beside the bed. The "cabana boys"(the heavy duty guys whose job it is to lift heavy things) came to get him back in his bed, and he didn't have enough strength to help. This is definitely a step backwards, maybe two. At this point it's a game of wait and see. Now you know all know how much a like a good game, but this one sucks. I have no control, no turn to try my luck. Dad is playing on his own against the Grim Reaper himself, and I think he just lost a turn. I hope he'll do better on the next round.
That's all I feel like writing today. Maybe more will come to me as the day progresses. We'll just have to "wait and see."
As I drove to the hospital this morning, I was entrenched in a thick fog. They're forecasting a nice day with a rough start. That's how I feel about my Dad. For the last few days, Dad has had a difficult time getting started, like when you try cranking car and all it does is turn the engine over. Sometimes it takes a few attempts before it will start. Dad has been very groggy this morning, as most people are before pouring caffeine down their throats. He's refusing to eat and getting a little ornery with me (just like Dave Foster). Of course I remind him that I am his daughter and inherited his stubbornness (don't tell my husband I admitted that) and harrassability. He can dish it, and I can take it. By the afternoon, he normally comes out of it. He remains confused and "out to space," but is more awake and aware. I'm hoping today is like the rest.
I'm worried though. Hard to admit that, but I am. One of the biggest concerns at this point is his strength and the potential for pneumonia. If he contracts that, he won't recover; he can't. I've noticed a rattle in his breathing. It's subtle but it's there. They continue to pump him full of antibiotics to help prevent infection, especially of the pneumatic type.
He was eating really well up until dinner last night. Since then he hasn't eaten much of anything. This worries me even more then the pneumonia. If I can't get enough calories, fat and protein, he'll never regain his strength. He so desperately wants to go home, and we continue to remind him that in order to go home, he has to eat. Sometimes that is motivation enough to take a few bites, but a few bites is not enough. He needs at least enough to remain status quot, and then some if he wants to get out of here.
Yes, I'm worried, but I also know that my Dad is a Warrior. He's not giving up with out a fight. My fear is that he's getting tired of fighting. Right now, my plan is to stay through next Thursday, when I will leave to go to Warner Robins for my cousins wedding, and then I'll be heading home. It will be good to be home; I can't wait, but I return torn between my Dad and my life. I'd stay by his side forever if I could. Heck, if Neil we didn't need money, I'd suggest that we move here temporarily until I feel like I'm not needed anymore.
I'm guessing that Neil didn't get the Athen's job. It's been three weeks and he hasn't heard a thing. I get that the government moves like molasses, but I think they would have called by now if they were interested. If I'm being honest with myself, I have to say that I'm disappointed. Before he got that phone call, I was prepared to stay in Maryland. I was moving forward, looking at houses, preparing my house to go on the market. I was fine, and then Neil gets this interview, and my whole world flips upside down. Then this stuff with my Dad happens, and I realize I want to be here...for good. Of course I don't want to leave our life in Maryland, our church, the camp, or our friends.
I'm torn between two worlds, my past and my present, my family and my friends, the North and the South. Why does it have to be so difficult?
I know it's been a few days, and for that, I apologize. I just didn't know what to say. There's progress, in the right direction, but we're still sitting at the crossroads...and quite frankly it's up to Dad at this point. He's eating, but not enough. He's moving, but still too weak to do much. He's speaking, but not coherently. But the point is that there is progress. Honestly, I wish he could come out of this confusion, emerge from the fog in his mind. I feel like then he'd know what was going on. I feel like most of his day is comprised of him trying to put the pieces together as to why he is in here and what is happening to him.
Yesterday he was convinced that he had been in a car accident, the doctors tricked him into being here, and that they had removed his bladder. I'm guessing that in this state, his mind simply can't grasp a hold of reality. He takes pieces of conversations he hears and words he reads around the room, and makes them into his reality. There is the dry erase board on the wall in front of his bed where they put the nurses names and other pertinent information. Ever since we got here, that board has been a source of angst. Dad just stares at it, then tells us that Maureen (one of his nurses) told him that Foley (the guy that invented the catheter) was trying to kill him. Speaking of catheters, that must be a very difficult thing for any man, emasculating at best. I think he's more bothered by that then the surgery.
So how am I doing? I miss my husband and my kids. Granted I see Owen and Blake twice a day for about an hour or two, but remember that I am used to having them all day long, every day. I never thought I would miss that as much as I do.
I miss camp. There is so much going on right now with promotion and preparation. It's difficult for me to not be there. But I can rest assured that it's in good hands right now with Michelle. She is amazing!
I miss my friends, who have been entirely faithful to me. Katy and Clare have been taking meals to Neil, which is such a blessing. It takes a weight off my shoulders to not have to worry about him. I should probably find a housekeeper to come clean the house before I get home. That would take some of the stress off me.
At this point, I think I'm staying until next weekend. My cousin is getting married in Warner Robins, and I'd really like to be there. Plus, I'd get to see my mom and my grandparents. Neil says he's coming down this Sunday for a couple days. I can't wait. I'm holding off telling the boys until I know for sure...that would be all Owen would talk about for the next week.
That's it for now. I'm thinking I might have something more profound later when my dad is sleeping, and not constantly asking me about his catheter. Until then...
Forest Gump said it himself, "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get." I feel like I just pulled out one of those with the cherry filling...yuk!
Dad came out of surgery with flying colors, but then the recovery came...and it wasn't pretty (still isn't). Granted, he's doing better than he was last night, which consisted of a mostly catatonic state. He's groggy and foggy, delirious and paranoid. Though today was better, only time will tell if he will pull through this. I think he's giving up. Before he went into surgery, he said he was tired of being sick, tired of fighting cancer. I can't even begin to imagine where he is coming from. The battles I face daily circulate around two toddlers, not life and death.
He once told me that not only is the cancer trying to kill him, but so is the treatment. This procedure was unavoidable. There was no other option, except to succomb. I have to believe that there is still fight left in him. The human will is an amazing thing. It's up to him now.
Last night I felt like I was in a soap opera from hell, a montage of drama only family can inspire. I don't need to go into all the details, but let's just say it wasn't pretty. People deal with circumstances such as this in all different kinds of ways. Some choose denial, and it works for them. Some choose avoidance, filling their lives with distractions. Some choose the worst case scenario approach, where the end is around every corner. And then others choose to face the situation head on and do what it takes. You never know which option you'll choose until your faced with it. And every situation is different. But when you get a bunch of people get together that have all chosen different coping mechanisms, KABOOM...chaos. That is the only way I can explain the events that tranapired last night...everyone trying to deal with dad's condition in their own way.
For now, I'd done...ready to distract myself with another episode from the second season of One Tree Hill (judge me not). This is my escape. Other wise, I could sit in this room seeing my dad in this state, and my mind could go crazy. I prefer to not deal...at least not for now.
Needless to say, I'm not coming home yet. Today marks the beginning of my third week away from home, and more importantly, away from my husband. One could only hope for a man more supportive than Neil. He's thinking he'll come down this coming weekend and I can't wait. Many times I just wish he were here, to sit beside me and hold my hand. Distance truly does make the heart grow fonder. (cliche or not).
Okay, so it's not actually midnight, but it certainly feels like it. Dad went into surgery around 3:00 pm. Just after 5:30, Dr. Johnson called up to the room to let me know that it all went off without a hitch. By 8:00 pm, Dad was back in his room raising hell like always.
Right now, it's close to 10:00 pm and I'm sitting here waiting for the pain meds to kick in. I'm hoping he'll be able to get some sleep. That would be good for the both of us, however, I'm starting to lose hope. It's hard to see anyone in pain, but to see my dad...whoa! I don't think I was quite prepared for that. I'm used to the loopiness by now, but there was no pain involved. This is like torture. Granted, I'm happy to do it, but that doesn't mean it isn't difficult.
I'm exhausted, physically and emotionally. I'll rant on some more tomorrow, but I just wanted to give y'all an update and let you know the surgery was a success.
Who does cancer think he is that he can just waltz into people's lives and destroy them? I am officially pissed. Can I say that? Too bad, cause I am. Pissed, I tell ya, and you know why? Because I'm allowed to be. I retain that right. You might be asking yourself why my tone has changed so rapidly from my last post (which I posted like 25 minutes ago). Well, I just happened to check on my SWF friend, Clare's, blog and was shocked to find that her uncle has terminal cancer. He just found out that he has about a month to live. The infectious, arse of a disease has invaded his entire body, and completely wreaked havoc on his entire family.
So I am taking my official stand against cancer. Let's blacklist him! From now on, he's not allowed into any of our clubs or associations, and no more Christmas cards. I'd say we could pretend like he doesn't exist, but he'll just revert to his annoying little tactics. So, I say we go on the offensive, and kick some cancer arse (my dad's word, not mine).
I realize this isn't really possible. We can't just cut cancer out of our lives like Monica and Phoebe tried to do to Amanda on Friends. But that doesn't mean I can't try. You think, when you're young, that you're invincible. The older you get, the reality of mortality begins to set in. People close to you get sick, fight terrible diseases, and some die. I'll tell you that it would be so much easier to stick my head in the sand and pretend this isn't happening. But it is, and I don't want to wake up one day regretting that decision. So here I am, facing my fears, doing what I can. As hard as it is, it's worth it. I'm thankful for this time with my dad.
If cancer were a person, I'd kill him. I wouldn't think about it for a second. I'd just pull the trigger. I can see now why family members of murder victims want revenge. It just makes sense (though I do not advocate taking matters into your own hands). I can relate.
Funny Story: Yesterday, I'm lying on the couch in dad's hospital room watching reruns of One Tree Hill on his computer, when out of no where dad says, "Honey...I'm hallucinating."
"What's that daddy?"
"The three of us are pickin' peaches?"
"We are? When Papa?"
"In 52...53. The three of us are pickin' peaches out in Peach County."
"Really? You do realize I wasn't around back in 52, 53, right?"
"I know...that's how I know I'm hallucinating."
I nearly fell off the couch. Dad cracked a cute little smile, then winked at me, but he wasn't joking. The morphine patch was kicking in, and dad was three sheets to the wind...still is actually. They're doing this shunt procedure tomorrow to redirect the fluid in his abdomen back into his circulation. In the meantime, the fluid keeps building up causing pain...hence the morphine patch.
My aunts, all three of dad's sisters, will be here tonight. They're in route to help the youngest shop for furniture. I'm glad they're coming. It'll be good for dad to see them and vice versa. Of course, I'm excited to see them myself...it's been at least a year or too. We're all so spread out; it makes it difficult to coordinate. I wish they had time to meet Blake. Ironically, they've all met Owen at one point or another, but no Blake. It's just such a quick visit and it's no time for a family reunion. This is about Dad, as it should be.
Even as I sit here typing, Dad speaks every now and then, uttering words I can not understand. When I ask for clarification, he says, "I don't know." For instance, he just said, "they're like my underwear." I said, "Where's your underwear?" He says, "I don't know."
Dad used to do impresonations of Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor...quite well I might add. He's just a hilarious man. I'm thinking I get my sense of humor from him, wouldn't you agree? Anyways, even on morphine, he's still got it. He might not know that he's still got it, but he does. Witty as ever...that's my dad.
On a different note, Neil and I set up Skype last night and video chatted for a few moments. Owen had just gone to bed, but Neil insisted I get him up so he can see Daddy. Being the obedient wife that I am, I brought Owen (along with Big Bear, Blue Bear, Pablo, and Diego) to the computer. For a while, he just sat there staring at Neil, probably trying to figure out what was going on. Neil turns the computer to the train table, and Owen starts chattering on about his train. Maybe that's when it clicked to him that Daddy was at home. Today, in the car, he kept saying that he wanted to go to Mommy's house. I asked him if Daddy lived at Mommy's house. "YES." What about Blake? "Yes, Mommy." What about Reece? "Yes." "What about Owen?" "YEESSS." "You know that Mommy's house in Owen's house too, right?" "Yeah...Owen's House." It was the cutest thing.
On a different, different note: I've been updating dad's blog too. I just fill in his readers on how he's doing, since he can't. Yesterday alone over 450 people read his blog, and I can bet I don't know more than a handful of them. Several of them left me posts to say how much they love and respect my dad, and that they are keeping him in their prayers. It's truly amazing how he's used his battle with cancer to impact the lives of others.
As I was walking outside to get some fresh air, I passed a guy who smiled at me and quickly asked, "how are you today?" Without thinking I responded with the expected response, "good." A few seconds later, I realized that I just lied. What would have happened if I had stopped and said, "thanks for asking. I'm actually not doing so well today?" That guy doesn't want to hear about my life. He was just being polite. Truth is that he probably doesn't care how I am. But there are people who do. How often do I lie with one simple word, "good?"
Over the past ten days, I've had numerous conversations, both on the phone and in person, and normally, the first question they ask is, "how are you?" I have a good friend, Katy, who begins every conversation with "hello," pauses for response, "how are you?" She even uses the same tone each time. It's comforting to know that she is so predictable. Most of the time, I answer with a quick "good" and move on to the point of the conversation. The difference between Katy and this man in the hallway is that Katy does care, though it's still easier to gloss over my true state of being and move on to things that are more on the surface. It's safe, but right now, it's a lie. I'm not good, unless you define "good" as confused, sad, tired, frustrated, and sometimes in denial. I don't feel the need to ellaborate, and you should know that, all things considered, I am doing okay. I'm surviving, taking one step at a time.
My dad has had a rough couple of days. This fluid is his abdomen is causing him to be in pain. Doc is looking at a procedure that will redirect the fluid back into his system to keep it from building up. In the meantime, it's not so fun. Not to mention that the nutrients they are giving him are messing with his head a little causing some confusion and loopiness. As we found out on Saturday, the cancer isn't the issue right now...it's this stupid fluid, and we don'teven know why it's happening.
The stories I've heard from people are never good where this fluid is involved. Speaking of, if you have a positive story, I'd love to hear it. It would be encouraging to hear about someone that came out on the other side of this junk and recovered.
I love your comments. It makes me smile to know people are reading and care enough to check up on me. I might not be good, but I don't feel alone and that is what keeps me going. Thanks for your prayers. I need 'em.
I'm 30,married with 2 of the most adorable little boys, a beautiful baby girl and a dog named Reese. Neil, my fabulous chemistry-loving, kayak paddling hubbie, loves doing projects around the house and rolling around on the floor with his boys. We've been married 7 years and just bought our second house in Catonsville, MD. I love to save money when I shop and am known amongst my friends as the guru of thrift (that might be more my terminology than theirs). I'm also a day camp director at Grace Adventures Day Camp. I like to cook, plan events, write (hence the blog),shop (hence the guru), & coffee with friends (okay really anything with friends). I also like to just veg out and watch my shows (maybe a little too much). If you want to know more, you'll just have to read.