I love my dad. Watching him go through such pain has been the hardest part of this whole entire ordeal, likely the most difficult thing I've yet experienced. My most extreme emotional outbursts, the deepest points of my sadness, are all associated with the pain I've seen him experience. The cycle of life prepares us to eventually care for our parents and worry about them, much like they did for us as we grew up. I've expected and planned on this since I watched my dad care for his ill parents when I was young. He set the example. It's simply what you do when your parents need you. Now, he is hurting and I want to take care of him, but how? There are no treatments to drive him to, no medicines to pick up and make sure he takes. His heart is broken and his dreams are shattered. With every fiber of my being, I just want to fix it, but I can't. I wish I could shield him from the pain he feels, but a shield does not exist that is big enough for that task. I'm angry that this is what he gets stuck with at this point in his life, when he should be getting ready for life as a "Snow Bird". I'm upset that he is experiencing a sadness I can't comfort. Anger and sadness aren't going to do anyone any good, though. This is our new reality, and it will take a while for all of us to get into what feels like normalcy. Until then, here are some positives that I will help him focus on:
· We have an ironclad family surrounding us. The three of us have gotten more support and love from our family than most people get in a lifetime. Blood relatives, in-laws, chosen family; They have come from all over to build a us a safety net. Hours on the phone, time spent at hospitals, carefully worded emails of support, legal advice...I could go on and on. My one hope is that someday, each and every one of them will know how much they have helped us and how much we appreciate them. Maybe someday we can be their rocks. For now, we will simply cherish them.
· He has grandchildren who absolutely think the world of him, and they need him. He is such a good grandfather, and has a genuine interest in them and their lives. Kids have a way of lightening things up, no matter how dark a situation, and I will help him remember that. I'll make a more concerted effort to ensure that they connect more often. They have lives of accomplishments and moments of joy ahead of them, and he has those moments to look forward to as their grandfather.
His life will never be the same, and it will never be the way he dreamed it would be at this point in his life. There is a lot of muck to wade through before his new life really takes root, but it will happen. He will be happy again one day. As his daughter, I will never stop striving for that. It's the only thing I can do.