The Waiting Is the Hardest Part
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Below.
My dad’s health is getting worse. He’s completely bed- ridden and on full-blast oxygen now. No visitors except for the trail of medical personnel.
The girls are facing final exams this week after a very, very difficult semester that’s included romantic break-ups, funerals of friends, and stressful competitions. I don’t want to add to their stress but I won’t hide anything either. What’s the point? They’re far too intuitive for me to even make the effort. They are aware, but we’ve all been through the emotional wringer so much that I’m not sure anything’s left.
I refuse to feel guilty or selfish for saying that. It’s not like there hasn’t been emotion. There’s been plenty of it, just drawn out over a very long time and sucked dry and replenished and sucked dry more that I would have thought humanly possible. We are down below the emotional marrow now.
Shannon and I had a long talk this afternoon about the situation and how she’s heard his impending death drilled into her since the fourth grade or younger. By him. By him when he was far healthier. We talked about the rollercoaster that went with every visit and plenty of times in-between that she never knew about.
We talked about her great-grandfather, too. About how strong he was and the difference in their attitudes as they approached the end of their lives, knowing painfully well that it was coming. I think it made a huge difference in quality of life and in the quality of life for those around them in their last years.
My dad, for at least 10 years, has prefaced his goodbyes to the girls—even when they were very little—with “Hurry back and see me because I may not make it that much longer” and “I may not make it until you get back” and “I might not live to see you again.”
My mother’s dad saw his end coming, too, but we remembered the way he phrased it, even as he worried more and more that it was closer. “I hope I’m here when you get back.” Or “Maybe I’ll be here when you get back.” There was hope amid the sadness.
Both phrased their goodbyes based on the inevitable, yes, but with my mother’s father, I never felt guilty when I left from a visit, and the girls never cried all the way home.
Meanwhile, I can’t sleep tonight, and I have to be up in 4 hours.