For You, Daddy

October 20, 2009

Cancer. The one word that causes everyone to shudder. I never thought I would see anyone deal with such a horrifying disease, let alone anyone from my family. Cancer was supposed to be an illness that was only shown on television or read about in books: not something that would affect me personally. But I know I’m not alone. Millions of people have had to suffer the same pain I have, and I wish to support all those who are currently undergoing the dreadful tribulations of this atrocious disease.
As for now, I am forced to face reality myself. Only 53 days until a year has passed. Only 53 days until I will have to overcome my fear of being in total remembrance of the day my life was completely altered. Only 53 days. It truly is amazing how fast time flies.
That fateful day, I remember it vividly. I doubt that the image will ever vanish from my thoughts. The day my world came crashing down on me. March 25th, 2008. I came home to my crying mother who was accompanied by a hospice worker. Although this was uncommon, I did not stop to think of what was occurring; instead, I as a naive and foolish child went upstairs to go about my daily tasks. After a while, I came down as my mother called me; unaware of the significance of the words I was about to hear, I simply stared as I watched my mom break down. What I heard next created an indescribable feeling deep within me, the words no one wants to hear. Essentially, it all came down to this: “It seems as if your dad only has a week or so left to live…” Although this may seem implausible, these words hit me hard for one reason: for the past two years, I had never thought that I would ever lose my dad. My faith in God surpassed all the doubts that had ever even thought to cross my mind. Despite my mother’s cautions to “be prepared” incase it did happen, I never stopped to think of the reality of the situation. My dad, the man who seemed to have no fears or weaknesses. My dad, the man who always made all those around him laugh. My dad, the man who constantly teased me with a smile on his face. My dad, the man who no one seemed to be able to dislike. My dad, my dad, my dad… it simply did not click. Until this moment. I hate crying in front of my mom, let alone a complete stranger, so I left to talk to my dad himself. When I came to him, I realized then how true the actuality of the circumstances was. Tears rolling down my face, I stared at my one and only daddy. He was now in a completely different state from what he had used to be. The once lively and active man I knew was now confined to a bed, unable to do anything alone. He had become another child, a child who could not walk, a child with a diaper because he could not go to the bathroom, a child who rarely talked, a child who must be fed and cleaned by another person. Although it may seem childish, for some reason, I rarely say the words “I love you.” However, for the first time in a long time, I stared at my dad with tears streaming down my cheek, and I said the three most powerful words known to humans, “Daddy, I love you…”
Even though my dad never responded to me, I knew in my heart he meant the same. I coul dtell from the way he looked at me when I said those three words, the words I hardly ever uttered. Still, I couldn’t stand it. I had to leave. I had to get out of the house. I ran out the door into the car and sped off. Away from reality. Away from all the stress. Away from my problems. Away, I had to get away. I now realize how childlike my behavior had been, for I did not realize how precious time was.
After an hour of being alone, I received a phone call from my brother. I picked up obliviously. And then I heard them. The words I had never thought I would hear. “The ambulance is here. They say he has one hour…” After I heard those words, I screamed. I yelled. How could this be? One week changed to one hour? I started to shout at my brother, “You liar!
Don’t lie to me! Don’t lie to me…” And then I started bawling. My dad, my one and only daddy, was about to die. He was about to be taken from me for the rest of my life.
I, normally a careful driver, sped over 20 miles above the speed limit to get home. At that point, I didn’t care. I didn’t care about anything but him. I needed to get home; I needed to see my daddy. I came home at the sight of an ambulance and fire truck in front of my house and started to howl even more wildly. I ran inside and saw my dad with tubes all around him and with the comforts of my mother, younger brother, and best friend, there was nothing to do but watch and cry. I watched as I saw the one man I truly loved struggle between the doors of life and death. And then he was gone. Forever.
Although I try to have an optimistic outlook in all circumstances and believe that everything happens for a reason, I can’t help but say it actually is extremely difficult. For two years, my family and I had struggled to fight the fight of cancer, and all our efforts had failed. During those times of hardship, my dad had to endure crucial pain that I had never imagined anyone to have to bear. The last six months were the hardest, for both him and the members of my family. The physical pain he went through, the pain that caused him to shriek as he depicted a vivid image of ten knives stabbing him in his leg. The sleepless nights that my mom had to go through as she took care of my dad. Agony. Our hearts were filled with agony.
At times, I wished I could switch places with him. I didn’t want to see my daddy go through such hurting any longer, but I didn’t want him to leave me either. Maybe by trying to keep him alive with me, I was being selfish. But I couldn’t help it. My selfish desires surpassed my rational thoughts; I just didn’t want to let him go. Despite his broken promises: that he would watch me as I grew up, that he would walk me down the aisle and give me away to my future husband, that he would see what college I ended up going to. In spite of it all, I would still give up anything and everything to have saved my daddy, or at least help him to find his diagnosis earlier. Then he wouldn’t have had to endure such pain or leave life on earth so pitifully, and my family wouldn’t have to undergo such anguishing grief. Then he’d be with me here today, and I wouldn’t be writing this…
I can’t lie and say that this experience has only created a different perspective of life for me. I can’t lie and say I’ve merely come out a stronger person. I can’t lie and say I will simply live each day as if it’s my last. I can’t do it. Yes, these things may be true, but it’s not the end of it.
Yes, this experience has taught me not to take anyone or anything for granted. Yes, I’ve learned the significance of family. Yes, my family had become much closer throughout the two years of trial.
But by merely stating the positives of this whole experience, I feel that I am not giving my daddy enough credit. He meant the world to me. He still does. His death cannot purely be a beneficial incident to me. It hurts. Reminiscing, that is. Even writing this essay makes me cringe. The thought of that day. That horrendous day that has turned my life around. The days that I’ve had to go through without him. And it’s all because of cancer. It’s always something, isn’t it?
Caroline Min