I'm sitting here in a library in Bullhead City, Arizona. Sort of surreal really. It was the only place I could find wireless to email my sister in law pictures of my dad. Dad never did think he needed DSL so the house still has dial up. And I've got a lot of pictures.
I got to AZ on Friday around 6pm. Dad wasn't conscious. His breathing was so gurgled because he was having trouble swallowing. Stepmom and I did gave him his medicine, we talked to dad, consoled each other and went to bed. She woke me up at around midnight because she was so concerned that dad spiked a fever. We stood around him and couldn't figure what to do so put a wash cloth on his forehead and attempted to get some sleep.
Stepmom called hospice nurse first thing and she got to the house soon after. She got dad's fever down and told us that 30% of patients get a fever within 24 to 48 hours of death. Was there anyone else that needed to be here? Go call your brothers NOW!
We managed to get older bro here in time -- he called me back within 30 minutes and had flight to LV and I had him picked up and home by 5pm. Younger brother had more scheduling issues and was coming from Louisville so he didn't end up making it in time.
Two hours after brother and I were back at the house, dad died. We had just all cleaned him up and changed his sheets. We all walked out of the room to take a breather, sat down at the table and within a few minutes brother jumped up and ran into the bedroom. He then screams "He's GONE". Stepmom screams "NO" and we go running in. He was gone. Kind of like dad to check out when no one was there.
Typing this sends me back in that room and it just was a horrible place to be. Brother and stepmom are extremely outwardly emotional and I was in shock. We were crying and we kept touching dad and really trying to decide what we knew was true. He was indeed gone.
You know, it is easy to say it was a blessing because at that point, it was. He was in so much pain and had been in horrible pain for quite some time. I touched him earlier in the day and he winced -- the cancer was everywhere. We even saw one of his tumors poking through his skin. He'd not been conscious for about 3 days. Yes, from that standpoint it was a blessing.
But it is never a blessing to loose someone you are close to. Ever. And no matter how much you know it is at the end, you are never prepared walk into that room and see that person not breathing. Never.
He was diagnosed with small cell lunch cancer back in October. We were told not to do chemo and he would be gone within 4 months. We did chemo and he made it for 10 with a relatively good quality of life. We had an awesome Christmas with both my brothers and their families, I talked to him all the time on the phone, mostly when at the airport with all my flying, I dropped everything and spent a great weekend with them in April, my youngest brother got to talk to him endlessly about job hunting advice, he saw my son in one of his plays in March and amazingly enough he made it up to San Jose for one last visit with older bro and I and our families for Father's Day/his birthday. I think we did everything right.
I love you dad. I'll miss you always.