I recently downloaded Oprah's new book titled "What I Know For Sure." I like Oprah but honestly never thought I'd read one of her books. I guess this particularly one spoke to me on some sort of level... the title only, maybe. I've read about half of it, the simplicity and key points and messages while somewhat interesting were typical and what you'd think she would write about life and her experiences, even the chapter titles didn't seem very original. But at least it kept my mind off of flying and distracted me from every bump and the unexpected turbulence that you always seem to encounter before the pilot turns on the seat belt light. The book wasn't filled with the insight and wisdom I'd hoped to gleam from it but a few chapters did resonate and get me thinking. Subconsciously maybe it prepared me for what I was about to experience, got me thinking in a more spiritual way. I read it while on my way to Florida on a red eye in hopes of having the chance to see my father one last time to tell him I love him and that I'll miss him. That didn't happen. He passed away almost minutes after I boarded my flight from SEA to MCO. I didn't know until my brother texted me and told me he would be picking me up and not my Aunt. I didn't ask, wanted to hear of his passing in person. I didn't want to breakdown on the airplane before row 36 had a chance to deplane... but I knew.
It has been almost a month since he passed away. I still cry everyday and know I will for many more days and months and years to come. I was able to spend five weeks with him this past summer and am grateful for this time. During my visit I knew that his health was deteriorating, he was in bed most of the day, barely walking and interacting with us, sleeping so much. While I was there he lost his hair in two days and at his weekly chemo treatment was told that the chemo was now doing more harm than good. That was devastating. That was when reality hit us all. My Dad maintained his strength, his dignity and sense of humor. He would often say to my mom, "I'm not dying today." He fought cancer for seven years, much longer than anyone expected, his doctors were amazed by his results and are now using his specific treatment for other patients. He was so strong, it brings me to tears to think of his fight, the pain he tolerated for so many years. For so long he seemed as if he was fine that the odds were in his favor, that he would beat this or be with us for many more years... I think we all, my brother and sister, even my mom forgot he was even fighting cancer.
So...what do I know for sure?
I know that I will miss him everyday. I will wish everyday that he was here to hug and laugh with, to watch a football game with and to see his grandsons grow up play baseball, graduate from college and have kids of their own.
I know that every time I see an older couple together my heart will ache. It will ache for my mom who has lost her life partner and will not experience the feeling of growing old with my father. Her dreams shattered by cancer. I know that she will forever love him and miss him and wish she was with him every day.
I know that I will never be the same, that life will never be the same. I know that for my siblings, my mom, and me our lives have forever been changed and we will never be the people we were. We will never experience the same joys that we did when we were all together.
I know that he was a wonderful father and I wished I would have told him this more. He overcame so much to be the man he was, a hardworking, honest, and loving husband and father. He wanted nothing more than to make our lives better and give us what he never had growing up.
I know that my kids will miss out on so much not having the chance to really know him. I'm deeply saddened by the fact that my boys will not know him as adults, not have the chance to spend more time with him.
I know that I will forever try to learn and see the positive from this experience, however hard that may be. It's difficult to see the good in all of this but I will strive to do it for my sake, my family, my mom. I will try to be the person he would want me to be and would be proud of.
I know that I am so sick and tired of thinking of cancer, hearing of people fighting and dying from all kinds of cancer, seeing the commercials for the Cancer Treatment Centers of America with the smiling lady talking about how her treatment saved her life. I am sick and tired of thinking I have cancer whenever I have an ache or pain. I am tired of living in fear of cancer and while I know I have to let this go and that I can't live this way I know that cancer will forever be in my life, it will forever be a part of who I am and honestly this pisses me off.
This is what I know for sure, right now. I think Oprah would be proud.