None of us (including the doctors) thought he would make it out of the ICU and considering he spent over six weeks in there, it is amazing he survived at all. I thought myself the worst daughter in the world for hoping that he would just die in there. We lurched from crisis to crisis and he suffered so much: I just couldn’t see the point of medical intervention to save his life as his situation is terminal and I wanted to spare him any more suffering. I also didn’t think we would get back the man he once was.
But now things seem a little different. Currently, the cancer is at bay and pain is under control: there is no more surgery planned. He has been intellectually heartened trying to finish his thesis and Phd, due to an out-of-the-blue letter from the Cambridge Academic Press, wanting to publish it as a book. And he wants a chance to have old friends visit and say final farewells and reminisce about the old days. He is contemplative, acceptive, reflective and very serene.
My stepmother is thrilled he is coming home. I tell her she has been through a battle and that I wish that I could pin medals to her shrunken chest, made scrawny in late night vigils of meals not eaten and by cups of cold coffee sipped on the run. Instead, I call her ‘dearest stepmonster’ and slip little airline bottles of whiskey into her handbag behind the backs of officious nurses: dammit, the woman deserves a drink if she doesn’t get a medal.
My brother has taken his computer daily into the hospital over the last week and helped to edit the thesis. He and my father show their emotions through choosing the right words: a lifetime of stiff upperlip love expressed in arguments over the correct English usage. And eventually, finally, even words are not necessary between them.
I haven’t spent much daily time with my father over the last month and I feel isolated. I work long days and by the time I can get to see him, visiting hours are often over. Or I have an infection and can’t visit. But I stay home and I write long emails that I hope my stepmama will print out and read to him; even as I write them I know that he may not be well enough to be read to or he may not remember them even if they are read. I miss him so much.
And now I am selfish. None of this not wanting him to suffer further. I want my father around so that I can bask in the presence of the remarkable man that he is, the wonderful father that he was, and so that I can put off, just for a little while more, the inevitable future reality of a world that he will no longer be a part of.