My father passed away last year. He was diagnosed with cancer and given six months to a year. He died within three months. There were the constant agonizing questions that I plundered upon myself. We allowed the doctor to give him one dose of chemo. After the chemo, he lost his taste buds
. I constantly asked myself why we allowed him to have the chemo and it destroyed his desire to eat. He lost so much weight so quickly. He had always been a strong man and full figured with tremendous arms and strong hands. Within only two months, he looked at those former strong hands, now wrinkled as though he were 100 and told me, "Son, I've grown old over night." It was the saddest moment in my life up to that moment.
When we lose someone, we want to lay blame on someone. Sometimes, it's ourselves for allowing a certain treatment or withholding a treatment. Sometimes it's the Dr. that we placed our trust in to bring that loved one home. Luckily, I layed my faith in God. It is the only thing that kept me from going crazy. It boiled down to the last doctor visit we made.
We were sitting there as the doctor told my father, my mother and me that there was nothing more that really could be done. We could give him chemo treatments and maybe prolong his life for a few more months, but it would not be quality time. My father was a strong individual and wanted to do what we wanted and had not a selfish bone in his body. When he had learned he would die from cancer, he sang Que Sera to me and was in total peace with what had happened to him. My father looked at my mother and I and asked what we wanted. It suddenly hit me as though they were not my words, but words sent to me. I told my father that it didn't matter if he took the chemo or not. He would live to the same day that God have designed for him to live to and not a day longer. Therefore, if he didn't want to take the medicine, it would not make a difference. He smiled the biggest grin I had seen him smile in two months, and said, "Well that's my answer! I don't want to suffer with chemo. I want to go home and live with the little dignity I have left!"
He didn't suffer at all until the day before he died. He had a bad evening, and we gave him the last of only two small doses of pain killer that we had to give him over the three months. He finally relaxed, we told him that we loved him and that we'd see him in the morning. I wanted to sleep at the house that night, but my mother told me to go home and she'd see me early the next morning. At 6 am, she called me. She couldn't wake him. I rushed over to find him with his hand on his cheek, staring at the clock as though he was waiting to ask me a question. Not a bit of pain on his face. He went quietly and quickly.
It didn't make things much easier. I still questioned my actions, and the doctors actions, but my mind kept going back to that moment when he made his decision not to suffer through the chemo. It is the only thing that kept me sane to believe that he would have left that day, no matter what we did.
I am not saying that we should not take medicine to heal our bodies. I believe that God gives people tremendous gifts to advance medicine and procedures and we should take advantage of those gifts if it will allow quality living. Saying that, I do not believe that we should try to prolong a life if it will only benefit those left behind and not the one going through the pain. We are sometime selfish individuals and think only of ourselves when faced with these hard moments in life.
I believe they did everything they could for your father, but he had been facing terrible problems already. Things that would eventually take his life no matter what you, your father, or the doctors did. It was a harsh reality that would be forced upon you no matter what happened. It's the love that you had for your father, and now the lack of being able to share that love and have it returned that causes you to question things like this. It's a feeling that can almost drive you crazy if you let it. Don't let it control you. Think of the words your father would be saying to you, if you could hear him now. Would he be saying, "Those doctors killed me and I want you to get them back at all cost!"? Or would he be saying, "Don't spend your time thinking of the tragedy in my life. I am fine now. Spend times thinking of me when we walked in the sun. When we sat for hours and talked about nonsense things, just to be spending time together. Think about cups of coffee, deep and long lasting hugs of welcome and goodbyes, and those silly tricks we played on each other to make each other laugh.
The last thing I remember is this. My two cousins and I were in his room the morning he died. They had already taken his body to the funeral home and we were looking for a suit in his closet. We looked at the wall and saw a huge spider! My cousins were yelling for me to kill it, but I was apprehensive of approaching the deadly looking thing! I found a fly swatter and eased across the room to kill it. As I approached I noticed something on the spiders feet. It was glue! My father had 'gotten' me one last time! I felt his contagious laugh filling the room as I told my cousins that we had been tricked one last time! Through tears of saddness, we were filled with tears of laughter as I called my mother to the room to tell her what Daddy had left for us. She laughed and her words were the words I live with every day that saddness grips me when I think of his loss.
"That was just like your daddy to do something like that to us all!" And that is what he wanted to leave us with. Laughter. Not what if questions, but moments of pleasure. Live with those moments of pleasure and realize that if you had a terrible father, you wouldn't even think of what ifs. You must have had a daddy like mine, to miss him so. Remember, that he loves you as much today as he did when he left.