Today is my father’s birthday. He would have been 85 years old. (In case you’re wondering, he had me when he was 52.) He left us 5 years ago and I finally feel ok. In my family, birthdays have always been a big thing. Parties, big gifts, memorable events, you name it. So naturally, to suddenly not celebrate the 21st of December felt extremely sad. This year, it’s different. When I realized that it was papa’s birthday, I didn’t feel like I was being sucked in a black hole. Sure, I must had a sad passing smile on my face, but I went through the day as my « normal » me. As cliché as it might sound, time really does heal all wounds, not matter how deep they are.
I wanted to share with you a blog post I wrote back in 2014. This was exactly 2 months after papa passed away.
On November 23, 2013, I lost my father. 😢
I used to think that losing my father would be the hardest thing to experience and that I couldn’t survive the loss. It was truly hard but I’ve had no choice but to go on. I experienced the death of my father through a long and stressful process. And at the end, I was left almost zombie-like.
A couple of weeks later, I started asking myself out loud, « Is Papa really gone? » I had already prepped my husband of this possible behavior. So every time, he gently pats my hands, gives me a kiss, and answers gently, « Yes, he is. »
But truthfully, I lost my father a long time ago. In March, he had a heart surgery. While the initial recovery looked positive, the long-term fared rather negatively. I saw my father smile less and enjoy life less throughout the recovery period. It was as if he simply put a death sentence upon himself. Most times I was his personal cheerleader, but my motivation could only go as far. Every time his lungs were full of water, every time his legs doubled in size, every time he had a hard time to pee, every time he had a doctor’s check-up, and every time he had to be admitted at the hospital, I saw him lose hope an inch at a time. I might not have seen it then, but looking back I see the signs. There is not a single photo or a single memory of my father smiling this year. He gave up a long time ago, way before he was hospitalized for the last time and way before he asked for palliative care.
Two days before he passed away, he asked again for palliative care from his doctor and in his own words, « he wanted to go as quickly as possible ». I felt like I was hit by lightning that afternoon. I heard my father begging for his life to end and I felt powerless. If the intern wasn’t there to hold me, I think I would have hit the floor. This little girl was losing her daddy and I realized that it was unfortunately the end. I was just not enough of a reason for him to hold on anymore. I love my dad so much, but it was time to say goodbye.
Two days later, he was gone.
I received a call that Saturday morning, on the 23rd of November from his nurse telling us to come quickly. He was just gone when we arrived, but still warm to the touch.
Neatly tuck in new white bed linens. Cleanly shaved. His hair held back. In his blue hospital gown. All the tubes and medicine lines gone. Eyes closed. His hands tucked together on his chest.
He looked like he was peacefully sleeping.
I kept in mind that papa did not want me to cry, but this was one request I couldn’t give him. I don’t remember what I said anymore at that moment in his room, but it was mostly thanks.
Thank you for being my dad, thank you for everything, but most especially, thank you for the gift of life.