If you had have asked me as recently as two days ago if I thought I was a strong person I would have said "Absolutely!" I've had my share of shitty experiences and managed to come through with my head held high, a smile on my face (even if it was sometimes a fake one) and optimism for the road ahead.
If you asked me today I would have a very different answer.
I have not held any illusions about my dad's illness. I haven't fooled myself into believing that he would get better, or for that matter that he would be able to fight it for a long time. Just look at some of my recent posts. But I also didn't know just how hard this would become. Just last Saturday I sat on the back deck with my Dad. He reminded me of the story of how I got the tuition for my second year of college. He was confused at times and in pain, but he was here and we were with him (and he was with us)
I went to see him last night in the hospital. I thought I was prepared. I knew what my mom and brothers had told me. I knew how he was when he left here Monday. But even now, I can't think about how he is now without falling apart. I don't think I stayed more than 5 minutes at the hospital. And I am so consumed with guilt over that.
My mom is there everyday. My brothers are there everyday. I'm there for 5 minutes, fall apart and I can't fathom going back - it just hurts too much. I can only take heart in knowing that he doesn't know I was even there (or that I'm not there)
My mom tells me not to feel guilty. She tells me I was here for him everyday that he was home, helping in anyway I could. But I feel like a pile of shit for running away when it got to scary. He wouldn't have done that to me.
And I wish beyond words can say that I had have told him what a great father and grandfather he's been. I can tell him now but I don't know that he's going to really hear it. Because despite knowing how sick he was, I still thought there would be time. I didn't want to sound like I was writing him off or saying goodbye. I know he knows how much we love him but I should have said it once more while he could still really understand it.
I'll go again on Father's Day. As hard as it will be - it's going to be the last Father's Day I get to spend with him and no matter how hard it will be, I wouldn't miss it for anything.