I Believe in Yesterday
“Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away” John Lennon sings in one of my dad and I’s favorite songs. Yesterday for me is any day before August 22nd, 2018. As I walked downstairs to talk to my dad about school, what I saw before me is an image that will never leave my mind. My mom and dad are crying on the couch. My dad looked at me and told me he needed to tell me something. I screamed and ran upstairs, already sobbing. I had a feeling in the back of my mind that I somehow already knew what it was. I slowly walked down the stairs to meet him at the bottom. “Do you have cancer dad?” He looked at me, tears rolling down his face, and nodded.
In that instant, my world completely changed forever. Stage IV Colon cancer that has spread to the liver and stomach. My new normal was taking my dad to chemo every other Thursday with my mom. The symptoms of this are like no other. Tiredness, vomiting, weight-loss, hair-loss, mental exhaustion, and so much more. Hearing those words could on the spot make anyone want to give up. Not my dad. My dad worked 5 days a week while on chemo. He slept during his lunch break, and he had to come to terms with the fact that in his situation, he either got rest or food.
The first year of my dad having cancer went by, and I was blinded by the reality of it. On the outside, my dad hid his pain extremely well. I thought he was going to beat this. I didn’t know that only 11% of people with his diagnoses make it past 5 years. I still saw a father daughter dance at my wedding, a high school graduation picture, family vacations like our last one in Canada, my children’s grandfather, I saw all of that still happening in my life. Little did I know, the rest of my family knew the sad reality of this disgusting disease.
John Lennon continues to sing, “now it looks as though it’s here to stay.” Ever since my dad got diagnosed, I always said to myself “it’s okay, as long as he never has to go to the hospital he’s doing good.” That reality changed when my dad came down the stairs one February night and told my mom he needs to go to the emergency room. In that moment I knew, this is here to stay. My parents spent their 27’th Valentines Day in a hospital room. This was not ideal for my dad. I have never met a man love his wife as much as my dad loved my mom. I of course chipped in to buy my mom flowers since he couldn’t.
Hospice. A word I didn’t know existed until March of 2020. When my dad decided to go into hospice care, we had a family meeting. My dad told us how sorry he was, and how he doesn’t want to leave us but it’s time. I remember he said to me “Our family rocks. This sucks that it has to be over.” Unlike most kids my age, quarantine was a blessing. I got to spend more time with my dad every day instead of going to school. He laid in bed all day, didn’t eat anything, and I did my remote school in the chair next to him.
John Lennon finishes, “Oh, I believe in yesterday.” On April 22nd, I heard my dad’s voice for the last time. “Goodnight Jo, I love you.” Little did I know that I would wake up the next morning to my dad, unable to speak to his own family, who he loves the most. My dad moaned for more medicine, and grasped the bed sheets, trying not to to leave his world. His world being his wife and daughters. That whole day, I lay side by side with my dad. I told him everything I could possibly think of, knowing this was the last time I’d get to talk to him. That night, my mom, sister, and I sat on my dad’s bed, and watched him take his last breath.
Sitting on the floor afterwards, reading my dad’s note book, we saw so many of his thoughts. A graduation note for me, his youngest daughter, which I hold near to my heart, and a section titled “In the unfortunate event” for us to know what he wants to happen after he passes. As I turn the page, I see the songs he wanted played at his funural. He wrote “In My Life- for my wife, Yesterday, for my daughters, Let it Be, for my mom.”
Although this battle of grief hasn’t gotten any easier after 7 months, I have found joy in the journey of life I have been given. Every day I wake up knowing that I had a father who was proud of me, loved me, wanted the best for me, and would’ve done anything in the world to stay a little bit longer here with me. Knowing that, I can somehow get through my days with a smile on my face. Trying to live life the way my dad lived it, and looking back at “yesterday” to remember the special 16 years I shared with him.