I lied. I wasn't ready to say good-bye.

by Shawn H.

On February 6, 2009 my father died and suddenly I became an orphan. He was the only one left who had watched me grow up day after day and he was gone. My mother died in 1993. My brother and his wife disowned my father and me that same year. Suddenly it was just the two of us left.

He met a wonderful woman soon after Mom died and she may have been the only thing that saved him. She passed in 2004 and I watched him fade after that. I knew he wouldn’t last very long and I tried to brace myself. He had loved these women deeply and he seemed rather lost without them.

I remember realizing when my stepmother got sick that he was probably the strongest person I knew. He had watched his mother die of breast cancer, supported my Mom when her mother was dying of liver cancer, nursed my Mom through lung cancer until 2 days before she died, and did the same for my stepmother when she got colon cancer. I find myself awed by the quiet dignity he maintained.

He smoked my entire life. Actually he smoked almost his entire life. He started when he was 10 years old. As he began to decline due to emphysema, people asked me why I didn’t try harder to get him to quit. How was I supposed to do that I wonder? He was an intelligent man. He had seen first hand what smoking could do. He knew without a doubt that the cigarettes were killing him, and after my stepmom died I’m not sure that he had any real drive to live.

Sometimes I think that the only reason he hung on as long as he did was for me, my husband and my kids. He had this need to know that we were going to be okay. He couldn’t let go until he knew in his heart that I was going to be okay.

So when he was in the hospital I told him without a single tear or quiver in my voice that I was okay, that if it was time to say good-bye I was ready; that it had taken me 30 years to get here, but I was finally an adult and could take care of myself.

The doctor’s weren’t ready to let him go, but he decided he wanted to go to hospice. He was there for only a little over 24 hours. I watched as he pulled the oxygen mask away from his face, I cried silently as I held his hand because he said he couldn’t see me anymore, I listened as he gasped for breath over and over thinking each time that it would be his last. Sometimes I still hear it in my dreams.

In the end though he managed to spare me the upset of actually watching him breathe his last breath. He died around 3 in the morning as I lay in a hotel bed in my husband’s arms having cried myself to sleep.

I didn’t go into his room when we got to hospice that morning. He wasn’t there anymore, just the shell that had held his incredible spirit. I haven’t allowed myself to really grieve for him yet. I tell myself there’s too much to do dealing with his estate, dealing with my kids, dealing with life, but in the end I guess it’s really that I wasn’t ready to say good-bye and I’m not sure I ever will be.

Comments for I lied. I wasn't ready to say good-bye.

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Jan 05, 2010
by: Sally Edwards

Hi I am so sorry to read about your Dad. My Dad died on 21st October and I know exactly what you mean about the empty shell. When I saw my Dad all cold and grey, it was not the Dad I remembered at all. Even at the funeral the man in the coffin was not my Dad; he was long gone to the fluffy place in the sky.

I have been going around in a haze ever since and nobody seems to understand unless they too have lost a parent. But I have to say that I was dreading Christmas and New years, but since those dates have passed, I do feel much better. I think that I have turned a corner on the long winding road ahead.

I am worrying about my Mum and Brother. My Mum is going to have to move to a smaller place, as his insurance did not pay out! But at least we still have each other.

My Dad was a quiet, funny, caring, honest man & I cannot believe the huge hole that he has left. He is the missing part of the jigsaw.

There is nothing we can do to bring him back, gosh I wish there was; so we just have to crack on and make the most of it.

Take care and good luck xxxx

Oct 08, 2009
Some thoughts
by: Alaina


I want to say I'm sorry for your loss, and I have a feeling for what you're trying to deal with. I lost my dad to cancer, which eventually spread to his lungs. I remember hearing each breath, scared to think which was his last.. It's so good that you have your husband and your kids there just to be there with you.

This journey of acceptance, (I don't believe we ever really "heal" from this kind of loss) is so difficult, and even though we've both lost our fathers, I can never truly understand the depth of your pain, but I just want to lend out a hand that can begin to empathize with some of your hurt.

I hope in time we can both come to terms, because I wasn't ready to say goodbye either... far from it. I like to think his spirit hangs around me sometimes, especially when I'm happy or feeling reflective about my own life. :)

As long as you never forget him, he'll always be with you. He is a part of you and in a sense he isn't gone. :)

May 31, 2009
The legacy of your dad
by: sue

Dads can be very special people. He loved the women in his life I can tell just by your description of your dad. My dad died 18 years ago. And there are still days that it does not seem like that long ago. Then 1 month ago my oldest son died, now my heart is back in grief.

Allow yourself to go thru the grief, embrace it if you do not the process will take longer. I know that when my dad died I became involved in all that was happening around me and did not go through the process. Let your family love you. I never go a chance to say goodbye to either my dad or son.

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