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The Longest 2 Weeks...

 

As I went through my seemingly normal school day, nothing would prepare me for the news I was going to receive during my last period. My week had already been off to a bumpy start with dad going into the hospital on account of his right foot turning blue for no obvious reason. I didn’t think much of it since the same thing had happened to his hand just a few months prior and he was in and out in a couple of days. As I sat in class, my phone began to violently vibrate in my pocket, it was my mom; but why would she be calling me knowing I was in class? I asked permission to take the call, and that was when my world was turned upside down. On the other end was my mother, calm as possible, but delivering the most devastating news she possibly ever would; my father was found to have terminal lung cancer. I felt as though my world had ended, my mind was numb and my insides where tearing apart. I had a sinking feeling through my whole body of complete powerlessness. She tried to make me feel better but nothing and no one could. The pain of knowing my father had a terminal illness broke me into a thousand pieces, along with my phone across the floor. How was I supposed to know what was happening? I was hysterical to say the least. My emotions ran a rampage through my mind and soul, feeling as though every part of me was being ripped in a different direction. My best friends Ross and Mike did everything to try and calm me down, but with no avail, so Ross took upon the task of driving me to the hospital while Mike continued trying to comfort me.             When we got to the hospital, my mom was sitting by my father and everything seemed normal, but I knew it wasn’t and never would be again. Even though the doctors had told him they weren’t going to be able to do anything for him, he sat there without a tear in his eye, agreeing with everything they said, showing hardly any emotion. The doctors offered to do radiation therapy, but my father refused, it would be unnecessarily painful and only delay the inevitable by a month or two. As talks of hospice came up, I knew that I was going to lose my father soon. The doctors couldn’t offer any encouragement, only that they were sorry they couldn’t do anything to stop it because it was too late. The cancer had spread to the brain and had begun bleeding, meaning it was in the advanced stages. All of this had occurred with no warning signs, how could this be happening? My mind was racing, thoughts of me and my dad were swirling in my brain, the good times, the bad times, how close we had become, only to get to this point where I was about to lose my father forever. I was so emotionally upset that I wanted to give up my navy scholarship and delay going to college. My father wouldn’t allow it and encouraged me to go on living my dreams and not give up just because he was dying. I knew he was right, but at the time I just could not find the strength to see beyond the moment.             Over the next week, my father’s health slowly deteriorated. I could see in his eyes that he was in more and more pain as the days progressed, and all I could do was sit on the sidelines and watch because there was nothing us or the doctors could do. My mom stayed with him every night and only left his bedside a few times to go home and clean up a bit and take care of the animals. Neither me nor my mother went to work or school during this unbelievably tragic time, all we did was pray and cry, pray and cry as we watched the power of God show before us. The final week was the hardest for my father. He stopped eating, was unable to open his eyes, and cried out in pain “God, please just take me, I am ready!” Fortunately I was only around for one of the extreme episodes, but in all my emotion, I was balling so loud that I could hardly hear my own thoughts. All I can remember saying was “no dad! Don’t go! I love you,” but on the inside I was praying for his suffering to end. I couldn’t bear to see him in so much pain because I felt it too – my heart was breaking. During this time, I wrote my dad a poem telling him all the things I needed for him to hear before he left this world. I sobbed as I wrote and the release of all my emotions was overwhelming.             On the evening of May the 5th, my father’s condition had finally seemed to stabilize for the time being. Though he hadn’t eaten in days and would never see the world again through his eyes, he looked almost peaceful. I told him how much I loved him and how much I was going to miss him since the doctors told me he still had the ability to hear. I played him the song, “Please Remember Me” by Tim McGraw, which added new meaning to it forever. I as a wreck, my best friend Ross told me I needed to get away for a night; so he took me to see Shooter. The theater was about 20 minutes from the hospital, a distance I would regret later. Only halfway through the movie I got that gut sinking phone call that read “St. Luke’s,” the name of the hospital. I almost hesitated answering because my mom said she would only call if it was an emergency. I slowly flipped my phone open and quietly uttered “hello…” my mom replied calmly “Nathan, your father just took his last breath.” The world and time stood still for a minute. I was so shocked I couldn’t even cry, I couldn’t even perceive what I had just heard. I couldn’t believe he was gone.  She went on to ask me if I wanted them to hold him there until I could come say my goodbyes; I tearfully replied yes. Immediately after I hung up the phone, Ross knew what had happened and we headed to the hospital. This ride would be the longest of my life; all I could think about was what I hadn’t said and was it really happening and why.  When we arrived at the hospital I felt like it was miles to his room and every step took all the strength in my body. As I approached his room I began to tremble uncontrollably; my emotions were taking over. Everyone was standing outside with the curtain drawn and teary eyes. The nurse couldn’t’ even make eye contact with me, or anyone for that matter. I went into the solemn room alone; just me and my father. As I sat beside him, all I kept repeating was, “Why dad, why’d you have to go,” almost as if I was expecting an answer; an answer that would never come. If only my love could have saved him, we could have had more time together as a father and a son. Now I will never know what might have been, or how great our relationship could have grown to be. What seemed like only a few minutes with him had been nearly an hour. My heart and mind couldn’t comprehend that was my father, still and silent, and that I would never hear his voice again to say one last “I love you.” Once my tears had finally stopped flowing and I had somehow managed to tuck my heart back into my chest, I gave my father one final kiss on the forehead and a final quiet good bye then left the uncomfortably chill room.              My father’s funeral had an unexpectedly large turnout, with most of them being my friends. As I slowly carried my father’s casket to his grave, I knew he was going to a better place; away from his addictions, away from his pain, and away from all that had plagued him. As the Army color-guard folded and handed the flag to my mother with taps playing in the background, I shed my first tear of the day, and the tears wouldn’t stop after that. I had tried to be strong for her, I tried to be strong for myself, but that is when I lost it and the realization of the situation hit me, he was gone. Though a great man in many senses, his problems and addictions had finally caught up with him, and he paid the ultimate price. I would go on living and striving to be what he had dreamed to see me become because of his love and belief in me as a father.  Some of the final words of advice he told me were to “never drink and never smoke.” Those words are engrained in my heart and mind forever along with those words that mean the most between a child and his parent, but especially between my father and me, “I love you son, and I always will.” I know you did dad, and I will love you always. No one will ever take your place as my father. That role was yours and yours alone forever. If only love could have saved your life. I love you; and “when all our tears have reached the sea, part of you will live in me, way down deep inside my heart.”
flyingnate88 flyingnate88 18-21 2 Responses Dec 1, 2008

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I lost my dad almost 5 years ago....so I know how you feel. Time helps, but the void will always be there. Remember the happy times...and cherish your memories always. God bless you.

Nathan,I'm so so sorry for the loss of your Father.It's one of the hardest things ever.I have a similar story to yours.My Dad died this March to lung cancer and he also was in it's final stages.Thinking of you.Hugs Sue.xx