One year ago today I packed my little family into our car to begin our journey home. I knew it was a trip that would have no happy outcome. It was not the soothing, relaxing, stress free trips home I’d taken for granted the last 10 years. No, during this trip I was going home to care for my dying father. I was going home to make sure he passed into the next world in his own home surrounded by those he loved. Just as he was there in my first breath, I was going to be there in his last. I knew there was no happy outcome.
During the ten hour drive home with my baby girl in the backseat, my sweet mom in the passenger seat and my husband following in our other car, I did a lot of thinking. I remember wondering (and I still wonder a year later) how did we get here so fast? How, at 35, am I going to go home and be grown up enough to take care of everything? Don’t get me wrong. I have a wonderfully supportive family. My Dad’s family is beyond amazing. My sister was coming home with me. I had my mother with us for the first week we returned home. I had my rock solid husband. But, I knew, as the oldest, the weight and responsibility was on me. I knew I was going to be looked to in making the hard decisions. I knew ultimately the decisions rested with me. I still get lost in that confusion as I think back on all of this a year later.
I also keep replaying things in my head. Did I miss something–a symptom, a sign, some clue? What did the doctors miss that got us from nothing to worry about to the damn cancer is everywhere in 6 months? Was I too wrapped up in my own life to realize? To understand? Why didn’t Dad say something? Anything? Did he say something and I missed it? Again, how the heck did I get here?
Frankly, I don’t know. I don’t know why and I certainly do not understand why. I tried rationalizing in my head that I had friends who had lost parents much earlier than me so I should be glad that I had 35 years. That’s crap. I had so many people tell me, ” At least you have…” Yes, thank you. At least I have the next few months to watch my father die a horrible death. Let me be grateful. Yeah, so I may also have a lot of anger remaining in my, “how did I get here?”
I finally had to realize (a year later) that these are things I’ll never understand. To an outsider looking in, it may seem like common sense. But, it’s not. Not when you are at an ultimate loss of control to do anything to save the life of your beloved family member. When it is your family–you will question every single tiny decision and you will beat yourself up over the major decisions. Healthy or not, makes sense or not–it is just part of it. So, even a year later I have to be patient with myself as I still grapple with, “How did I get here?”