September 22, 2011

A Wrecking Ball to the Stomach

We took my dad back to the hospital Sunday evening because he was still unable to eat more than a few bites a day and we were also worried that he had developed another urinary tract infection. They admitted him and the next day we requested that he be given a feeding tube (inserted directly into his stomach, not through the mouth) hoping that would give him the nutrients he needed to build his strength back up. We were so hopeful, even researching cancer care facilities in Tennessee that he could be transferred to so they could work with him on nutrition and physical therapy. 

Then Tuesday came. Tuesday, what an awful day. I will now forever hate Tuesdays. They took my dad for a CT scan and later the doctor came in with the news that would completely turn our world upside down. The scan revealed that the cancer that was previously just in his bones has spread to both of his lungs and is very aggressive. There is nothing they can do except chemo, which my dad adamantly does not want. They have estimated that he has two weeks to live. I don't know how I'm even writing this right now, except that I have to. Writing is therapy for me and I have so many thoughts and emotions that I have to get out or I'll burst... or punch someone in the face. 

My daddy. My funny, strong, protective, loving daddy, barring some miracle, will never step foot back in his house again, will never sit in his recliner again and watch Wheel of Fortune (calling out "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay" as the answer to everything because he thinks that's hilarious), will not see his first grandchild turn one year old. He will never do another Ricky Ricardo impression or tag along with us on errands just to be able to spend time with us. The last picture I took of him when we were home three months ago will be the last picture I have of him. Wilder will not know his granddaddy, although I'll be damned if he doesn't know what a great man he was. It just doesn't seem real. This cannot be happening. How can I go the rest of my life without hearing him say, "What's my Baby Wilder doing?" or "Drive carefully" or "Did you know your daddy loves you very much?"?
I've spent more time crying the last few days than not crying, it feels like. Sometimes I'll forget what is going on for a couple of seconds and then it comes back to me like a wrecking ball to the stomach. Just when I think I can't possibly have any more tears left in me I remember something we did together or one of his funny sayings and I just lose it. 

Tuesday I was in shock. Yesterday I was defeated and exhausted. Today I'm just mad. I'm mad that my daddy is only 60 years old and we should have 20 more years with him but we won't. I'm mad that none of his grandchildren will ever know him. I'm mad that he's lying in a hospital bed suffering while there are so many worse people in the world who should die long before he does. I'm mad at this helpless feeling. I'm mad thinking of all the things he's going to miss out on when he's gone and all the time I missed out on spending with him since we moved to California. And I'm furious because I feel like his doctors failed him by letting him go 8 months on that experimental medicine before checking to make sure it was working. He deserves better than this. He deserves to go out like the hero that he is. 
But there are things I'm thankful for and I'm trying to keep reminding myself of those things rather than dwelling on all the ugly bits of this situation. I'm thankful for the amazingly loving dad he's been to me for 28 years. I'm thankful that he was able to know my son and love him so much. I'm thankful that now, no matter where we live, he will be able to look down and see our lives and watch his grandchildren grow instead of just reading about it all on a blog. I'm thankful that we have a little bit of time to prepare for what's to come and the chance to say goodbye to him, instead of losing him in an instant the way so many loved ones are lost each day. I'm thankful that, even though he's not able to talk much, I've been able to spend some time alone with him over the last few days -- thanking him for being such a great father, reminiscing about stuff we've done together, apologizing for being such a turd when I was a teenager (to which he labored to reply, "Emmy, no you weren't; you're wonderful."), and to tell him about our plans for the future. I'm thankful that I came to Tennessee a week early and was able to spend that extra time with him while he was still at home. I'm thankful for Wilder -- he's the one bright spot in this for all of us right now. I'm also thankful for all of the people who have already shared stories about my dad with me, who have remembered us in prayer, and who have offered to help in any way they can. In times like these, it means so much to know that so many people are there to support us. 

The next few weeks are going to be the worst, hardest time of our lives. I don't know what our world is going to look like without him in it and it's just not fair that we even have to think about that but I do know that we are going to survive somehow. He's spent his life making sure we are strong people and we aren't going to let him down. We are all determined to honor him with our lives and make sure everyone we meet can see what an amazing person he was through us. Friends, please continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers -- praying specifically for peace and freedom from pain for my dad and strength and comfort for the rest of us. 


  1. Thank you so much for writing this Emily. Although I know this was very difficult to compose, you have done a very eloquent job. I will miss Uncle Ramon more than I can imagine and it breaks my heart that I won't ever hear him call me Buddy Bubba again or get meet Gracie (who would have adored him as we all do), but more than anything I want his pain to be gone. I know the Lord performs miracles every day, but if He decides to take him home instead, I am so thankful for the memories we will have and what an amazing man, husband, father, son, brother and friend your daddy has
    been. I love you and will see you very soon. ~Lainey

  2. This was painful, but beautiful, to read. I am so sorry Emily. I'll be praying for you and your dad. Please find comfort in the fact that all of our days have been perfectly numbered since before the existence of time, and nothing happens outside of God's perfect plan. Your strength is inspiring!

  3. Yes, thank you for writing this Emily! It has been so hard to fathom that this is really happening, and hearing your heart has opened the flood gates. A lady in the office this week went to tickle a visiting baby and without thinking I said, "I think I hear the tickle bee!" Each time I fasten my seatbelt in the car, I can hear him singing, "Buckle up for safety. Always buckle UP!" with that obnoxious ;) last note. Your daddy is so special and I love him very much. I am so thankful that you have the time together that you do. Praying for you all and will see you soon.

  4. Oh Emily I'm so thankful that you got to come early and wrote to tell us all what's going on with you emotionally. What hurts the most is thinking of you, William, Aunt Marsha and Grandmother without him. I scream cries out to God at the thought of you all's pain. I found this prayer in Uncle Rhea's room at Grandmothers house so you might have heard it....Prayer For Strength: Our Father, when we long for life without trials, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure. With stout hearts may we see in every calamity an opportunity and not give way to the pessimism that sees in every opportunity a calamity.

    It has always made me so happy when Uncle Rhea stays to watch the Dabney Production every time we came to visit. He never missed a show no matter how late it was. It made me feel so special that he'd stay and watch us. He always has a dry humor comment to make us laugh whenever we mess up or try something new lol. I'll forever save the last piece of Grandmother's Chess pie for him and if I want dessert I'll say "Marsha, Emily wants a chocolate milk shake". I always remember Dear Sweet Uncle Rhea when its time for the birthday song cause I have to stop myself from holding the first note of "Haaaa" entirely too long. Or if I dare skip ahead in line to grab the pickles at the end of the BBQ line up at Grandmother's I'm sure to hear a loud "Aaa, no cutting in line. Let me hear you say..." haha He's such the life of the party. I love you Emily.


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