March 31st, 2014.
It’s a day I’ll never forget. I can recall everything from the moment my mother called me as if it was just yesterday. I remember it was a Monday close to 3 p.m. and it was exceptionally warm out for March. I was walking home from my last class for the day at IUPUI. I was on University Boulevard by the hospital’s outpatient garage when my mom called. She told me the words I was dreading to hear since 2010.
“Dad passed away last night, sweetie.”
In that moment, I felt numb. I couldn’t cry. I couldn’t express how sorry I was. Instead, I bitched about how much studying I had to do that week and that coming home was going to be such a hassle. This was my way of coping to my mom. For some reason, I couldn’t cry to her. I couldn’t say how sad I was. Maybe because I knew how much she was already hurting. I don’t know. I just went home and went straight to my room. I grabbed a pillow and yelled as loud as I could. I cried and I cried and I cried. I probably broke down for an hour or so before I got myself together again.
When I finally calmed down, I continued on with my day like I had planned to before I got the news. I still went grocery shopping and ran some errands. But after all that shit, I just lost it again. I was alone in Indianapolis while my mom was here at home hurting alone. I had numerous missed calls and texts from my friends, but I just didn’t want to talk to anyone. I felt so heartbroken. I was never going to see my dad again and nobody could help change that!!
March 30th (the day he passed) was the last time I saw my dad. I was home that weekend and I was leaving back to Indy that Sunday evening. I remember my mom kept telling me to say bye to my dad. That this might be the last time I see him. I didn’t want to say bye. I couldn’t. He wasn’t even himself. He was just laying there waiting to die. He was unresponsive; Just sleeping because of all the medication they had him take. The cancer had taken him from us. It wasn’t even him anymore. I didn’t want to remember my dad that way. I had tears in my eyes telling my mom no I will not say bye to him like that and I had left. I fucking left. I really wish I had said goodbye! He could have at least heard me. I had to live with this decision and I just felt guilty. I felt like I never properly got to say goodbye to my dad. All the times he was in the hospital or at home not feeling well because of the chemo, I was out drinking with my friends. How could I be so selfish? Even if I didn’t want to deal with the pain, I feel like I abandoned my dad. I left him on his last months to go out and drink. Mom always said I was going to regret those decisions. God, am I still paying for them. I live with guilt everyday. I just feel like I let my dad down. That I made it seem like I didn’t care about him or the situation.
He was first diagnosed with colon cancer in 2010, but luckily the doctors were able to just cut it out. It was almost like nothing happened until the second cancer came in 2013. This time my dad had lymphoma and we weren’t so lucky this time. He had to go through chemo and I watched the chemo take parts of my dad away. It was so fucking hard to watch. Everything he enjoyed doing came to an end. He was always in bed or in the hospital. Luckily the lymphoma went into remission and we had a few normal months with my dad. He was gaining weight and all his hair grew back. Everything was going good until the next doctor appointment.
Both cancers had returned. This is where it all went down hill. The doctors tried to cut out what they could. They continued chemo, but it wasn’t working this time. The cancer was spreading too fucking fast. When my mom told me dad was moving to hospice care, I knew this was the end. I didn’t know how to deal, so I just did what I thought was right to protect myself at the time. I pushed my mom and dad away. I numbed the pain by not dealing with it. Looking back now, that was a horrible coping method and really just made it harder on me in the end.
After the burial, I took a lot of the anger out on my mom. I would constantly fight with her about nothing. I just wanted to push her away so I wouldn’t feel this hurt again. I even said some fucked up shit like the wrong parent died. I would get so drunk and then come home and cry to my mom. I’d tell her how I was sorry for how I was and how much I missed dad. This would happen every weekend that summer. I know my mom was just over my shit back then. (Mom, if you’re reading this, can you please not tell me you read this? Thanks!) I’m sorry mom. I was fucked up man. I should have never tried to push you away. You didn’t deserve that. I should have been there for you, but I couldn’t. I didn’t know how.
Late 2016, I finally got the courage to sit down at my dad’s grave sight and say sorry. I told him I was sorry for how I had acted and how I was treating my mother. I talked to him for about 25 minutes. I remember this so vividly because nothing like this ever happened to me. At the end of the conversation, a ray of sunlight came shining down on me. It was completely cloudy out that day and out of nowhere this sunlight came down directly on me. I swear right then and there I knew my dad heard me. It was like I really got to talk to him again. I don’t know. It just really made me think he got my message. I swear I started believing that day; Believing that my dad was really watching over me and is still with me everyday. I just can’t see him, but sometimes I can feel his presence. It’ll never be enough, but it’s all I have.
It’s about to be four years since my dad passed away. It never gets easier, I just show the pain less. There’s days where I randomly find myself crying in the shower or crying in the car because I miss him. One of the only two family members I really had. And the man who was supposed to walk me down the isle of my wedding day….
I miss you so much Dad! Mom’s still hurting so much without you here….I wish you were still here.
I love you. Happy Birthday, Daddy.
That is the promise of peace. That one day, after a long life, we find each other again.