Friday, May 11, 2007

Retroactive Entry: Initial Email Letter to My Intern Community


Hello, much loved and missed 'terns (and revered intern coordinator). My family and I just arrived home from the hospital, me after a night and morning on the bus. Dad is taking a nap and Mom is whipping her and me up a late lunch in quintessentially resourceful Mommy style.

I plan to write more later once I take time this evening to compose my thoughts, and at the very least, I think I may post them to my blog so there is a place folks who want to keep tabs can without me sending a million separate email every day. I am undecided if I'll use my current blog or create a new one just for this. I'll let you know...

The short update is that this afternoon played out as I has expected, which I suppose is good and bad. My Dad has lost a lot of weight even since our visit a week and a half ago, and I felt very secure in my decision to come upon first laying eyes on him. I can see in his countenance that time might be short.

I had the chance, sitting at a picnic table under a clear and perfectly blue sky, to talk with my Mom shortly before we met with the doctor. As she has with everything thus far, she took it well, and our talk was simple but sweet.

My Mom, sister, Grandma, and me then sat together with my Dad when we talked with the doctor. It is as I had known - his cancer is fast-moving, aggressive, and essentially untreatable. At this late stage, his recommendation is to avoid chemo, as it has a small chance of having any positive effect at all, and more than likely, it will only diminish him for the time remaining. I teared up when my Dad asked the doctor how much time he has, to which the doctor replied, "a few months." I cry for me, my Mom, my sis, and my Grandma. But I especially hurt for my Dad, for while I can try to see this as some sort of graceful time full of special moments for me and him, I of course get to eventually rejoin my life, already in progress. He is facing truly the end of his mortal life, which is something I cannot even pretend to understand. I grieve.

I've said that I have thus far not been fighting this, but I felt a little of that impulse today. I don't want to lose my Dad. And it is not just about the things in MY life that he'll certainly miss - my wedding, my kids, my accomplishments - but seeing him today, I thought of all the things he'll miss for himself. He will likely not woodwork again or see another Thanksgiving, Christmas, or new fallen snow. He is leaving his wife, four children, sister, brother, and Mom, long before his time. He is leaving his friends, his morning coffee, his western movies. He is leaving life, or rather, life is being taken from him. I grieve for us, and I grieve for him.

I talked with Dad some about our options to clarify what the doctor said, and he seems amenable to calling hospice and foregoing chemo. At first he was asking about more tests, and he seemed to have this fight in him for chemo. But I explained what we are facing. I just hope he keeps his spirits while the immutable gravity of this news for him - his demise - sinks in.

We stopped for ice cream on the way out of Titusville, and then on the way home - at my Dad's behest - we took the scenic route. We drove the dirt roads, and Dad pointed out a place where he saw two bald eagles and some streams he'd like us to fish in the coming weeks. We stopped by the homes of two of his dearest Tidioute friends so he could deliever the news. "Bad news," he always started out. "Untreatable. We're going to have hospice come in and help and not do chemo. He is giving me a few months. My son is here to help, and I have my family."

I am here to help. I get teary at that, too. Thank you guys for releasing me to take care of my Dad, help my Mom, and be home for what is essentially helping my Dad die. I am afraid. I am sad. I am not sure how I'll get through seeing him slowly deteriorate in front of me, the Dad who gave me life and raised me and has always been so proud of me. Not to be cliche, but I guess it is my time to care for him. I look forward to that fishing, to long drives wherever my Dad wants to go, and moments just around the house.

I love you guys too, and forgive my overly sappy or emotional emails in coming weeks. I'll need someplace to put that stuff. I so loved my send off last night, and it'll always be special to me. I am not yet sure about Friday, but even if not, hopefully sometime or another. Set a place at the table for me.


P.S. I didn't "All Staff" this, but feel free to forward it to whomever you'd like (even "All Staff," if you think it appropriate).


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