Here's what my dad may not always realize: he is a miracle. The last four and a half years have been a miracle. I don't use that word lightly, either. But looking at all he has overcome, when all the odds were against him, is a miracle.
With the guidance of my dad's oncologist, we have recently decided to transition him to hospice. Certainly not an easy choice for anyone, and we are each dealing with our emotions in our own way. At the same time, I am able to recognize the gift we've been given.
First of all, I recognize how lucky I am to call him dad. I've always known this, but seeing the comments of well wishes has further validated this statement. So many friends of mine, my brother, and my sister feel very close to my dad. He has always been the kind of guy who takes other people in. He knows our friends, and he loves them. He knows my mom's friends, and he loves them.
I recognize the gift of time. Time to spend with him, reflecting, praying, conversing. Time to tell him how much we love him, and assure him that we will all be okay.
I recognize the gift of community, and how it has become so strong over the last four years. We couldn't have fought this battle alone, and we never had to. Our friends, family, church community, and co-workers have joined our army, and it's been a beautiful thing to receive so much love and empathy.
I recognize the gift that my dad made it to my wedding. We had our doubts, early in the springtime. But he pushed through, and he made it there to help get me down the aisle. I will cherish the memory of that experience for as long as I live.
I realize that I am painting a picture of one that is content and at peace. I assure you, I am struggling. But I am fully capable of struggling and recognizing the good, all at the same time. It's complicated and exhausting and I am nearly always on the verge of tears. But another gift that I have is my strength. And I know that with my strength and the army of people with and behind me, I will forge on.
Knowing what I know about grief, I am fairly certain that one of the most challenging parts about all of this will be that the outside world will go on as normal. It isn't going to stop because of what my family is going through. There's still work to be done, problems to be solved. I will want to hit a pause button but I will not be able to, and will have to go on balancing it all, envious of everyone else who gets to live a "normal" life.
I'm not sure how else to end this post, other than to say thank you for reading, thank you for understanding, and thank you for your gift of friendship. Please continue to keep my family in your prayers during this time. I would especially ask for prayers for my mom. Also, give hugs. I like hugs.