Realness

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Life is starting to adjust without dad being here. It feels weird too. It feels weird to see Bridge pack dad’s small suitcase to take with her to Tuscaloosa because I know it means dad will never use it again. It feels weird to go to dinner and not have dad there at the table. Yes, we have fun… But it would’ve been so much better with him there.

And today mom and I had to pick up death certificates… And of course I wanted to see them and read every line thoroughly. But now I feel sick. Like I could throw up. I don’t like reading “cause of death: esophagus cancer.” Actually… I hate it because it causes me to return to April when I came home for a wedding. Dad was so sick then. He was so thin and looked like he was dying. And he had been having esophagus problems for three years… But he wouldn’t go to the doctor and they thought he just needed a scope… So we all figured that the scope would fix everything.

But… when I came home in April and saw him, I knew… I knew in the pit of my stomach his condition was deadly. So I started researching esophagus cancer and he had every single symptom. Which scared the shit out of me. All I could think was, “Fuck. Fuck this is going to suck. I’m going to loose my dad.” I walked out of the office into the living room and found my mom on the couch and all I could do was cry. Cry and say, “Mom, this is bad. This is really, really bad. He has every symptom of cancer.” I was so scared and I cried in a way I’d never cried before. It wasn’t a cry of fear, it was more like a cry of death. Death was looming… And I could feel it.

Mom told me not to say anything to him… but I couldn’t. I couldn’t wait. I had to do something, and I had to do it in that moment before I missed more moments with my father. So, I told him. I told him what I read… And he got scared… And neither one of us knew what to do at all. And then I tried to think of ways I could bargain with God for his life. Because the thought of losing him was too much in that moment. It was starting to consume me and I had to do something, anything. But… in my heart, I knew there was no way I could bargain with God over this. If he gave us a miracle that would’ve been great… But bargaining when dad knew that he had been sick… well bargaining probably wasn’t going to work at all.

As I sit here and relive moments I had 9 weeks ago… they still feel so real. So present and so alive. The awful thoughts and images of burring my father, the heavy feelings that nothing would ever be the same and the tears that didn’t die down until I was asleep. They’re all too real. It’s all too real, so real that I keep distracting myself and trying to forget reality… But it’s always there.

And when mom and dad dropped me off at the airport after the wedding, I hugged dad and said, “please, please, please take care of yourself.” And I started crying… Crying because I just knew and that was awful. To know deep down that my father was about to be gone…. That I was about to be introduced to death for the first time in my life, and in such a quick way.

And now… now it’s the end of June… And dad has been gone for 3 weeks. He was just here too. He was just here and we were having so much fun. He was just here and it was Easter Sunday, and mom and I were watching he and Bridge throw a tennis ball in front of his construction house. We were laughing and having such a good time. I can’t believe these moments are over. I can’t believe he’s gone and we will never have another easter together again.

Even listening to mom talk to the landscaper right now makes me sad because dad should be the one deciding which landscaper to use for his business. Dad should be the one managing his masterpieces… And I hope it gets easier. I hope it will all become a little better everyday. But honestly, in the midst of it all… this has been so good for me. It’s the realest thing I’ve ever encountered and it’s helping me grow in ways I never saw. I’m so patient with my mom right now and that’s not one of my attributes, but I have no reason to be impatient with her because she’s hurting and needs my patience. I also feel like I just understand life on an entirely different level now too. Like shit just got real. Really real. And… I needed that.

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