Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Loss is just a heartbeat away.

I've gotten two calls today, one from my fathers doctor, one from the psychiatrist for the hospital. They both agree my father cannot make decisions on his own anymore, so it is just a matter of signing some paperwork and getting him into a long term care facility. This is what I had hoped for and prayed for. This is a relief, but it is also the final step before death. It's so, so sad.

I talked to my brothers today, and it broke my heart. They both sound unlike themselves- the worry and sadness in their voices is something I have never heard. The grim reaper of grief is already coloring their world, just like it is mine. This made me feel both less alone, and more lost than I had been. If these two men, who have always been so strong can be feeling this way, how will I ever make it out of this?

My father was an ironworker the whole of his life. He worked his ass off, broke his back twice, injured himself more time than I can count. He was an army man, and a paratrooper. He was strong, stronger than anyone I have ever known. Now...he is a shell.

The doctors and nurses say he refuses meds, refuses food. He is uncooperative when it comes to exams. This is the same man that just 3 years ago came to my wedding and danced with me under the stars. He was sober, strong, funny, and kind. He charmed everyone, from Mark's friends, to my in-laws, to the catering staff. I was never more proud of him.

But here we are, just 3 short years later. I am in awe of how quickly sickness and addiction can take a human life. It is staggering.

The last time I saw my father was in April. I remember so clearly walking out of his room at the nursing home, looking back at him. He was lying on the bed, scrunched down near the end because he didnt have the strength to sit up. His pants were undone, his bedrails were up. A walker sat within easy reach, the curtains were drawn. I thought he had fallen asleep so I was trying to tiptoe out, but when I looked back he had turned his head to look at me. He raised his hand, put it down, and turned his face away. I should have gone back and hugged him, but I didn't. I left and cried the whole way home.
I don't know where this road will end, and I don't know how many steps my father and I have left together. I do know there is no hope of healing now, and no hope of recovery. It is simply a waiting game.
Let's hope, for his sake, the wait is a short one.