The 6 Words That Would Change My Life

Today marks exactly one year since I heard the most dreadful 6 words…

You have stage IV lung cancer

My dad and I sat in the oncologists office anticipating his biopsy results. The doctor walked in, sat down, and wasted no time informing us of my fathers diagnosis. I can’t blame her for being so direct. I would have rather heard it immediately vs. having more time to hope and pray for good news.

As soon as I woke up this morning, I thought about what this day meant. What this date exactly one year ago did to my family. I mentioned it to no one today. I sat silently thinking about my father’s reaction to the news. He simply put his head down. I can only explain it as the way someone might do when they have been defeated. I tried to be strong in the office. I tried to hold myself together, at least until I could get home and cry silently.

The oncologist explained to us that chemotherapy would allow my father more time. She never gave us false hope, we knew that he was terminal from that point on, but he decided that he wanted as much time as he could get to spend with his family. I still had not cried. I almost feel that I was frozen, like I was in shock.

She led us to the desk where there was a very friendly nurse who would schedule dad’s first chemotherapy appointment. As we stood there waiting for her to make the arrangements, I broke down. I could not hold it in any longer. I was going to lose my dad and the ocean of tears began running down my face until I found myself struggling to gain control.

Today, my daughter and I were in the car. She looked at her phone, and all I can gather is she had a memory come up from one of her social media accounts. She said to me:

My daughter at miniature golf

Mom, 3 years ago today we were in Florida with grandpa playing miniature golf.

I said:

Honey, 1 year ago today grandpa received the news of his cancer.

It’s almost surreal to me that on this very same day 3 years ago, my daughter and I were in Florida enjoying time with my dad. Playing miniature golf and going to Wahlburgers for lunch.

That’s my dad eating his burger

She asked me, “do you think it means something”?

I said to her that anymore I think every little detail means something. I think that the praying mantis that rested on the outside of my kitchen window for an entire day the day that we sold my father’s house meant something. I think that the penny I found underneath the recliner where my dad spent most of his final days meant something. I think that the white feather that landed on my windshield a few weeks ago when I was at a stoplight meant something. Everything means something to me, I just don’t know what that is. Maybe it’s me just trying to hold onto any shred of my father.

I don’t know. All I know is that I miss him more now than I ever thought possible. There is no such thing as preparing for a loved one’s death.




A Year Since My Father’s Anticipated Visit to Ohio

Today marks one year since I received that call from my dad. He was in Pennsylvania for his cousin’s daughters wedding. He was not feeling well since leaving Florida when he drove 1,000 miles for his semi-annual visit to Ohio, but first he made a pit-stop to PA for the wedding.

His cousin took him to the urgent care center in Pennsylvania where they recommended he go to the emergency room. He told them that he would be heading to Ohio in the morning and he would have his daughters take him.

He never even made it to the reception.

Looking back on it now, I cannot help but think that my Dad knew something serious was wrong.

When he called me and explained how he was feeling and that the urgent care advised him to go to the ER, I offered to come to Pennsylvania with my sister, and we could bring him and his car home so he would not have to make the drive. He declined.

He arrived at 12:00pm almost exact on Monday, October 8, 2018, and by 12:15pm, we were headed to the emergency room after stopping to pick up my sister.

We waited 8 hours in the ER waiting room. Little did we know that this 8 hours would be the last time we would spend with my father without the loom of cancer over our heads.

I remember the doctor saying that he doubted it was cancer because my father quit smoking 25 years before.

Unfortunately, the doctor’s doubts were wrong.