The last time he opened his eyes

by Matthew

About a month ago my dad passed away. At the age of 63 (im 23). My dad struggled with leukemia for 5+ years. He has his kidney, bladder removed and years of chemo treatment. It was hard to watch him struggle with this. He was always a fun loving and great man.

Up to his last month alive, I didn't get to see him much. I tried to stay away because seeing him like that was difficult. If I could go back I would spend every second with him. On Jan. 29th I received a call from my mother that my dad was bleeding in the bed. I rushed over to see my dad curled up in a ball. He had lost over 50lbs and wasn't recognizable. He could barely sit up. I got him dressed and we got to ICU. When we got their he was bleeding out of his nose. I left to go to work. I received a call 2 hours later that he was being transferred to ma** clinic in Rochester, mn by helicopter. I then rushed to the ma** clinic. To see my father slightly talking and in the frame of half his normal size. On New Year's Eve I visited with him. I remember saying goodbye and giving him a hug and looking at him as I walked out the door. He looked absolutely terrified. That night he took a turn for the worst. He began to start bleeding to an extreme amount. They had to put a breathing tube down his throat. When I returned the next day I remember walking in his room and just seeing blood everywhere. It was one of the most horrifying things I've ever seen. He was sedated. The doctors rounded up my mom, my half brother and me to talk privately. The doctor explained that he had a rare fungi infection in his blood, along with e coli bacteria, and multi organ failure. He said that my father is a sick as you can get. He explained that he has a 20% survival rate in his current state. I remember the small room we were in just shrinking down on me. I have never felt so claustrophobic in my life. I thought about how I never got to say I loved him. I never got to talk to him. The next 3 days were a battle of emotions. Ranging from if we should continue his struggle, to will I ever get to talk to him again.

The days passed and the doctors explained that his bleeding was everywhere and his infection was not responding to treatment. At that point we decided to remove everything except breathing tube. We shared stories of him while we sat around his bed. Withing two hours he began to struggle. I grabbed his hand and he squeezed it back. He opened his eyes one last time and looked me in the eyes. I could see and feel his pain. But I knew he was free and at last I was as well. That was the realist moment of my life. The mourning process has been difficult. I feel like I was selfish and not the best son. I just remember going through everything and being soooo damn proud of everything he's accomplished. He worked his whole life for me and my mom. He sacrificed for a better life for us. I will think about him all the time and use his imprint as motivation in my life. He pushed me to what I am today. I'm glad he got to see me graduate college. I know he was proud.

Comments for The last time he opened his eyes

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Feb 18, 2013
The last time he opened his eyes
by: Katelyn

Matthew, I am so sorry for the loss of your father. I can't even begin to imagine what your father, you and your family went through for those number of years, as everyone's experience through a cancer journey is different. I can definitely relate to your story though. I unfortunately lost my father to a 10 month battle of lung cancer this past January. It was an unbearable 10 months seeing him suffer, so to have read of another's journey for 5+ years is heartbreaking, and difficult to imagine. My heart goes out to you guys during such a difficult time. My father was 51, I am 22 so I can relate on being so young to lose a parent. I was also with my father when he passed away,along with my mother and one of my brothers.

I'm always asking myself why, why did this happen to my Dad, why does it happen to anyone? One thing I try to keep telling myself is that my Dad has fulfilled his purpose on earth and is needed somewhere else. I hope you and your family are doing okay during your healing process.

To me, anyone who is diagnosed with cancer (whether they choose to fight it or let nature take its course) is a hero. Their families who help them every step of the way are inspirations. Your father, whom I'm certain is to you, is a Hero. You and your family are inspirations.

Always remember the good times and memories you have with your Dad. Remember he is always with you, watching over you as your guardian angel.

God bless your father, you and your family.

Feb 12, 2013
The Lord is my strength
by: Anonymous

Well you know my husband died of Leukimia. Next month will be a year, and it feels like yesterday. Although the doctors mis diagnose him first stating it was Lymphoma, and then finding out he actually had Leukimia cancer in the blood. I went through it myself, when the plateletts & blood transfusions weren't working anymore. I had to tell the doctors NO more. I don't want him suffering NO more on the last 3 to 4 days, before he passed on every minute I was cleaning his blood from his nose, mouth, and the oxygen mask. The only think I could do was make my husband feel clean, and make sure the blood clots would it choke him. All I can tell you Mathew is that in this case he was my husband he loved life, and was the greatest man anyone could meet. He worked on the dark side, was a rehab couselor for gangsters in perticular, but your father, and my husband are no longer suffering. What I can tell you is cherish the happy memories you had with your father. I am catholic, but I know GOD is watching over us, and my husband is always around me (spiritually) that is. How I am dealing with my grief son is by going to the bookstore and reading on books on loss & grief. Talk with people who have lost a love one, stay away from negative nayers. I too have those difficult memories of illnesses, because I went through it with him. That is what a marriage is through the good times & bad times. So I do know exactly how you feel. Your mother is also going through difficult times, she was the love of his life. I hope when u feel blue you look to the higher power GOD to give you Hope, Faith, and just talk to him like you were talking to a friend. I feel for you. God Bless you & keep going forward. It is not easy, but one day at a time. Hope you, and your mother & family are doing well. Don't know you in perticular, but I know the pain to well. Till next time.

Feb 11, 2013
The last time he opened his eyes
by: Doreen U.K.

Matthew I am sorry for your loss of your father and for all the difficulty in watching this illness with him fading before your eyes. It is one of the most difficult places to be. To see a healthy man suddenly disintegrate into a shell of a man. I had to watch my husband of 44yrs. die a slow ugly death with lung cancer caused by working with asbestos. The 3yrs.39days of struggling with this disease and losing all quality of life. A body builder in his youth and a good body with great strength. My husband could not accept his decline in health and his loss of strength. this hurts a man. It almost seems cruel to have to watch and care for someone you love just grow weaker and weaker each day until he slowly dies before your eyes and you are helpless to do anything for them. Grief is hard to bear. I know how you feel. You are so young at 23yrs. to have to see this happen to a young father. My husband died at age 65yrs. I still think is a young age to die. My 3 Adult children are coping but life now but this will be ongoing for some time. If you find yourself struggling see a grief counsellor. You will be amazed at how you can be supported in your grief. Just don't think of yourself as selfish and a disappointment. These feelings are part of grief. Selfishness is a part of the human condition we all struggle with to overcome. Your father would never think of you as a disappointment. Your interaction with him would say the opposite. So look for positive things and write them down and hold them forever. When you start writing you will be amazed at the thoughts that will surface. You will get your life back in time. For now it will be tough. Don't give up HOPE.

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