Monday, March 9, 2015

Dad


off-shore rig in Dubai
{dad in dubai, circa 1983}

My amazing, indomitable father died on Tuesday, February 24th, after living with cancer for five years. We thought it was just a flare up of the same issues that landed him in the hospital last month, until it got worse, quickly. I drove straight to the hospital from a work meeting on Friday night, crying as I crawled through LA traffic. My sister got permission to fly down and on Saturday our family made the difficult decision to stop all medical interventions. The next four days were physically and emotionally exhausting. Watching my father die was the hardest thing I've ever done. We spent a week planning the memorial service and I existed out of time, wading through memories, wholly focused on honoring him and his life. And now it's over and I feel small and lost. Last week I went back to my normal life and it's just hard to understand how everything keeps moving along as if nothing has happened when there is this huge, gaping hole in the world. I'm trying to figure out how to keep going when just doing the usual things - showering, buying groceries, going to work - leaves me feeling exhausted and worn thin.

I had a post in my drafts that I had been writing for a while, just to help me process everything that was happening. I wasn't sure if I was going to share it or not but I think it's important, to me, maybe to anyone else who is living in this state of uncertainty.

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My dad was diagnosed with advanced liver cancer just a few weeks after Dustin and I announced our engagement. We spent the week before Christmas that year in the hospital, where they told us we'd be lucky to have six months together. It was more than any of us could handle, this news. And then we were lucky, unbelievably lucky. We got more than six months. We had our wedding and my dad was there to dance with me. We had four more Christmases. My sister announced her pregnancy and my dad was over the moon, expecting his first grandchild. The doctors had agreed on an unusual treatment and it worked better than they expected. We always knew it wasn't a cure. In the beginning we jumped through hoops, did weeks of testing, waited by the phone for days, to get my dad on the liver transplant list despite the size of his tumors. We stayed on the transplant list for a few months and felt hopeful. We explored temporarily relocating to another state with lower demand so that the transplant could come sooner. We cried when the tumor growth outpaced the treatments and we no longer qualified for the transplant list.

None of this is on the blog. There are lots of reasons that I don't write regularly about some of our family health issues. There's privacy, for one thing. My dad is a private person and these issues aren't mine alone and I'm not comfortable sharing in real time. There's avoidance, on my part. I prefer sharing the good bits here and not constantly re-hashing the disappointments. I try to avoid over thinking in person as well, but I'm not as successful.

So I've been quiet. But now we are at this point, the point where we are forced to admit that we're out of options. We've fought hard and we've tried everything we could. My dad has endured with good grace the endless rounds of appointments and scans, the painful treatments and long recoveries. We've endured living with death in the room for the last five years. It is wearing.

My dad was diagnosed with cirrhosis years ago, when I was in high school. He's an odd case, with no hepatitis, no alcohol use, none of the usual risk factors. They aren't sure why his liver is having so much trouble. Not having a reason is frustrating, which seems odd since the end result is the same.

We have spent five years in this limbo. Once our options ran out, it got harder. I dread every appointment, knowing that we have no chance of good news and a high chance of bad news. I'm relieved when there is no news, when we are on a plateau. We ask for timelines, percentages, chances. The doctors hedge, as we know they will, because predicting the progression of cancer in any given individual isn't just difficult, it's impossible. I know that but I still have to ask. My family is blunt, we do not dance around medical decisions, the doctors appreciate how comfortable we are with these discussions. My dad and stepmom make funeral arrangements, because it is practical. We go over memorial services. We make off color jokes about cremation.

I cry, not at the doctor's office, not in meetings, not in front of my dad. I cry in the shower, during TV commercials, on my bus ride home. I carry tissues everywhere. I finally accept that maybe I should try seeing a therapist and it's the right decision, but I cry even more. Apparently that's a good thing. I learn to stop telling myself that I'm doing a bad job dealing with this and just tell myself that yes, this is a shitty thing to have to deal with. I try to be nicer to myself. I fail a lot.

I am terrified. Liver failure can end particularly badly, not with bedside reminisces, but with an elevation in the ammonia levels in the brain that leave the patient paranoid, angry and often violent. I'm terrified that in his last moments my dad will be convinced that he hates us. I try to prepare myself to erase those moments but I'm not sure I can do it.

We exist in a tug of war, my dad and I. We talk about lots of things but avoid feelings as much as possible. We are trapped. I know that he needs comfort and care but he wants to be the one taking care of me. I want him to take care of me. I am an adult in every way, taking notes, researching medications, calling doctors. Inside I want to stay a child. I want my dad to fix things.

My dad tells me he has a savings account for his dog, to manage her expenses once he's gone. I cry every time I think about it.

There are so many different ways to lose someone. This drawn out loss is a blessing in some ways, the chance to prepare, to say things you want to say, and a curse in others. We are living with no hope* and it gets harder as every day goes by and the chances of bad news mount. I'm not sure I can handle it. I try to balance my time, seeing my dad as often as possible while still seeing my mom and my stepdad, D's parents, our friends. I feel guilty nearly all the time. There isn't enough of me to go around.

I save all my sick time, hoard my vacation days. I feel guilty because we still haven't decided if we will have kids and now it's too late for my dad to ever meet our theoretical children. I feel like I can't have kids because I know he'll never meet them and it seems too unfair.

I think about my dad's eulogy, about what needs to be said. My dad is a towering presence in my life. He's a soft spoken, over-sized cowboy philosopher. A woodworker, an oil rig engineer, a man who loves logic and cares more about animals and children than the majority of adults. I run out of words, because I still don't really believe that this is happening.

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My dad didn't become angry at the end, and for that I am eternally grateful. There wasn't even a long decline, other than the uptick in hospitalizations the last few months. He was vital and wholly himself, making plans, listening to me agonize over whether or not to move, talking about our dogs, speculating endlessly about whether my sister was eating enough protein. In those last few days he was aware of our presence until he wasn't, and we were able to stay at his side the whole time, caring for him as best we could. His memorial was beautiful, a testament to his life, filled with family and friends and neighbors and the receptionist from the vet's office. This should all give me comfort, and it does, I promise. It's just that it isn't enough. My dad was the strongest person I've ever known, and I carry some of that strength in me, and I know I can go on. I'm just not sure how right now.

IMG_8356
{dad, rena, me, 2011}


*Edited to add - I was re-reading this and realized that I thought we were living with no hope, but hope is a sneaky bastard and gets in there even when you don't realize it. I had hope, this whole time, even when it wasn't justified, even when I thought I'd accepted our situation. I had hope that we could continue on this plateau forever, like we had been the last few years. I had hope even in the end, after we'd taken him off fluids and had been told repeatedly that it was just a matter of hours. There is always that tiny sliver of hope and in some ways it's the most difficult part. Because you can't completely convince yourself there is no hope, even when you think you have, and then you are broken all over again when you lose it. But I can't regret it because it speaks to something beautiful - love, resilience, desire. And I don't want to be someone who decides to live without hope, no matter how misplaced it might be.

119 comments:

  1. Oh, Rachel. I'm truly sorry for your loss. Sending positive thoughts and vibes your way. Wishing you guys strength and peace during such a difficult time.

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  2. I'm so sorry for your loss, Rachel. Your words were so beautiful and touching; they made me cry and will stay with me when the time comes for this dreadful path we all have to walk. Sending you lots of love and light in this painful time. <3

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  3. this is beautiful, I cannot imagine. thank you.

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  4. i love you and i am so sorry.

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  5. This is really moving and beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing such a rich portrait of your father and such an eloquent reflection on grief and loss.

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  6. I'm so sorry for your loss. I know there's nothing that I can say that will help--both because this is bigger than anything words encompass and because I'm yet another random person on the internet--but know that your words are beautiful, honest, and true. Thank you for sharing this. Sending some sunshine your way, lady.

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  7. I've very sorry for your loss.

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  8. I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. What a touching story you shared about your father.

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  9. I am so sorry for your loss, Rachel. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  10. This is a beautiful post and I'm sorry for your loss!!

    Danika Maia
    http://www.danikamaia.com

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  11. Thank you for letting us into your Dad's life. I'm sorry he's no longer here. Love to you and yours.

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  12. I cried a lot as I read your post, my dad is one of the most important people in my life and I can't ever imagine loosing him, I'm very sorry for your loss and I pray you have the strength to go through this. May his soul RIP. God bless :)

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  13. Rachel, I am so sorry for your and your family's loss. What a devastating things to happen to you. I wish you enough strength to pull on when it's tough and enough love to let go and cry when you need to. x

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  14. I'm so sorry to hear of your dad's passing Rachel. Sending lots of love, good thoughts and prayers to you and your family xx

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  15. Your dad sounds like a badass, a real amazing man. You are such a good daughter and an inspiration. I'm so sorry for your loss. Over the last six weeks I lost two dear family members and recently began seeing a therapist for the first time ever to help me cope. I've had three sessions so far and it's helped immensely. Last session the therapist recommended I read On Grief & Grieving--Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler. I'm almost done reading it, and so far I really appreciate the insights and guidance. Just a suggestion in case you hadn't heard of it. Again, very sorry for your loss. Thanks for sharing your story.

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  16. Life. It just isn't fair. :(

    Virtual hug from afar..

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  17. ♥ from the other side of the pond.

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  18. Oh my sweet friend, remember always remember .Families are forever ..life is eternal and you will be together again. So sorry for your loss

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  19. I am so, so sorry. Thank you for these beautiful words.

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  20. This is so tough, Rachel. I can't imagine how tough. Be easy on yourself, you sound like an amazing daughter and person, and you will get through this. xo

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  21. I'm so sorry for you loss Rachel. God bless you and yours <3

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  22. Rachel, I'm so sorry to hear about your Dad. My Dad died suddenly when I was 15, there is never an 'easy' way or age to go through this experience and the loss of any parent is a horrible situation. Remember the good times, the laughter, the tears of joy, the hugs and kisses. Live your life remembering how proud your Dad would be of you. Sending you lots of love from the UK, Stephanie xxx

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  23. so sorry for your loss. thank you for sharing and articulating your thoughts.

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  24. you have a great way with words and describe grief in this heartbreaking and true way. long time reader and so sorry for your loss. sending warm thoughts and prayers to you and your family at this difficult time.
    love from denmark
    xx H

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  25. I am so, so sorry to hear about your loss. As always, your prose is so authentic and true - savor the memories...

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  26. Oh Rachel I am sorry. You are so young to lose your father. I hope that mourning brings relief over time, and peace, and even some beauty - if that's possible. Thank you for your voice and your writing and your images.

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  27. I'm so sorry to hear about your dad's passing. It's awful and horrible and completely unfair. Your dad sounds like an amazing guy.

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  28. This is a beautiful piece of writing - you express your emotions and the love for your father so eloquently. I'm so sorry that your Dad has gone, he sounds wonderful. I wish you peace. Thank you for sharing.
    Kate, Oxford UK.

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  29. I'm sorry for your loss. My dad died in November 2013 from a hepatic liver/liver failure. It was drawn out, but we didn't know he was dying. That hole is there and I'm reminded often. Yes, time helps you adjust to the loss, but it doesn't go away. When my husband and I bought a house, I wanted to call my dad for some easy electrical fixes. I think I had even dialed his number before it hit me.

    Again, I am so sorry. It is a terrible pain.

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  30. I just wanted to thank you so much for posting about the hard things in life alongside the recipes and home decor ideas.Real life is made up of both failures and successes, joys and disappointments. And for those of us whose life does not look blog-perfect, it is refreshing and encouraging to see someone else admit that life is really really tough sometimes. I am so sorry for your loss, and so appreciative of your willingness to share it with us.

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  31. Thank you for sharing this post Rachel. My dad was diagnosed with cancer this time last year and I can relate. We are living through the scans, treatment, and uncertainty now. In my experience it can feel very isolating but remember that you are not alone. As you say you carry on some of your dad’s strength and that is so important. Your dad will never be gone-- he will live on through you and everyone that loved him.

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  32. Rachel, this post was beautiful and it touched me deeply. Thank you for sharing your story; I know it was difficult. I’m so sorry for your loss and am thinking about you and family during this time.

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  33. Sending love and light your way. I'm so sorry for your loss.

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  34. I am so sorry for your loss. This was a beautiful tribute to your father. I wish you peace and comfort in the days and months ahead.

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  35. I am very sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your story.

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  36. I am so very sorry for your loss.
    My thoughts are with you.
    Sending you a lot of love and well wishes.

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  37. I am so sorry for your loss.. this post made me cry, especially the part about his dog. I hope you're feeling better soon and send you all my love!

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  38. Oh Rachel, I am so so sorry. He sounds like a truly amazing guy.

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  39. My sincere condolences, Rachel. Thank you for sharing this deeply personal and affecting post. I'm sure you've heard that time heals all wounds and while I don't necessarily agree with that--because there are some wounds too big to heal--it does get easier with time. Just do the best you can, and like you said, be kind to yourself, and it will get easier.

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  40. So, so sorry. I lost my mom to cancer when she was 60. As with all untimely losses, there is the inevitable "s/he is missing this" moment. We just had our first baby, and I miss her every day, but I take solace in knowing he has an angel in his court. I wish you every bit of healing I can send thru the interwebs. It takes grit and determination to survive and thrive, but I have no doubt you have it in you.

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  41. Rachel, that was beautifully written- it brought me to tears. I'm so sorry for your loss. Sending love your way.

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  42. I'm so so sorry for your loss and all that you're going through because of it. Your dad sounds like he was a great guy (with the coolest dadstache ever).

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  43. I am so sorry for your loss. There are no words for this. I watched my best friend lose her mother 4 days before Christmas last year and it was completely unexpected. It's not fair, no matter what the circumstances. It's completely not fair that your dad is gone.

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  44. Sitting here with tears streaming down my face. I am so sorry for your loss and for all you've had to endure. Thank you for sharing this, and I hope you find peace and healing in time.

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  45. Beautiful word Rachel and a beautiful tribute to your Dad. Wishing you all the strength and courage you will need in the days and weeks ahead x

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  46. So sorry to hear this - I lost my father over 25 years ago and still miss him so badly. But count myself lucky I got such a great dad even for a short time. It sounds like your dad was a good 'un too.

    On the cause of the cirrhosis - did they test at all for haemachromatosis - it's a genetic condition where there is an overload of iron in the blood. May be worthwhile you and your relatives getting tested for it (it tends to run in families with Celtic genes). Treatment if you have it is very simple so nothing to be afraid of...

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  47. Thank you for sharing. Sending love and strength your way.

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  48. I see your smile in his beautiful smile <3

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  49. I am crying as I read this. Thank you for writing. He seems like he was an amazing man. You honoured him with this piece.

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  50. I am so very sorry. It is such a hard time. My own Dad died at the end of September. He had bowel Cancer and went to his liver. It is a very surreal time- that time in the hospice near the end. My Dad was a very kind simple living person and I still find it so so difficult to act normal in work and social situations and sometimes count down the hours to when I can go home and let it out. Other days I find it easier. I suppose my advise to you is try to be gentle on yourself and do not expect too much from yourself. Sending you love and kind thoughts from across the sea.

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  51. I'm so so sorry for your loss. I'm a long time reader of your blog, though I've never posted. Just know that you touch people you don't know exist, and we're all sending you love, hope, and strength and celebrating someone we wouldn't have known existed except for your decision to share your love for him.

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  53. I'm so sorry for your loss. You have written so eloquently about your experience and your dad would be proud. My dad died a little over 15 years ago and our story was in many ways similar to yours. It happened quickly in the end and I so identify with the struggle you felt going through it all and the indescribable weirdness to go back to "normal" life and do everyday things. My dad was my greatest supporter and champion and I think of him every single day. The picture of you with your dad and sister is a treasure - the look on all your faces couldn't be more perfect.

    The detail about your dad having a savings account for his dogs made me both laugh and cry. It truly tells us who he was as a man.

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  54. Rachel, I'm so sorry for your loss. I've been thinking about you and your family's situation a lot lately. Thank you so much for sharing your beautifully written story. It brought me to tears. Sending well wishes your way. Julie from Germany

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  55. Sweetheart, I am so sorry for your loss. I think you are very brave to publish this already. My dad passed away 8 years ago. I can totally relate to the feeling you are describing and you will feel many different things after that. But if there is one thing I know about it (and about anything, actually) is that no matter how hard it goes and how long it takes, it will pass. You will get perspective about it and about life and grow in so many ways you can't even imagine right now. I am still learning and growing from the experience and from him. I am still getting to know him. The only thing I am proud of in my life is how I handled it and how I am using it to become a better person. Stay strong and trust your gut.

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  56. I'm so sorry for your loss. From a longtime reader and fellow Scripps alum--thank you for sharing this (and what a beautiful photo of your family).

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  57. I just wanted to tell you how sorry I am, and that I'm thinking of you and your family. xo

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  58. I'm so sorry. Sending you lots of love.

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  59. Rachel, I have read and admired your blog for years now and have never responded to any of your posts. We are more or less around the same age and my mom died of cancer, colon, 9 weeks ago today. What you wrote, let alone published on your blog, is what I'm too afraid to name and write on paper. You nail it: the pain, loss, sadness, conscious belief that you will keep moving forward, unbearable realization you will move forward as a different person without the strongest person in your life by your side, the inability to visualize a family without him there. I feel you. I'm so pissed another young woman has to go through it. It's hard, but be kind to yourself. Do what you need to do. I watched a lot of Call the Midwife on Netflix. I swear it helped.

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  60. So sorry for your loss. Your post is a beautiful, moving tribute to your father with words that radiated love. Continue to hope and thank you for sharing your experience. Sending love and strength to your family.
    "With the new day ahead comes new strength and new thoughts." —Eleanor Roosevelt

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  61. Thinking of you and your family.

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  62. I am so very sorry for your loss, Rachel.
    “It's so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.”

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  63. You are such a beautiful person and I'm so sorry for your loss. These are the most real, honest, true, beautiful words I've read in a long time.

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  64. Also, there is a memoir by Carole Radziwell,
    "What Remains" about her husband's years with cancer. I don't know if you want to read anything so similar to what you just experienced, but maybe it could be theraputic. I would mail you a copy if you want and have a PO box or business address you trust giving a random reader.

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  65. I am so sorry for your loss, but thank you so much for sharing all of this -- one of my best friends has just lost her father (this past Sunday) to cancer. I am passing along a link to your blog post, thank you for your kindness in sharing.

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  66. I've been reading your blog for a long time now, for your creativity and your honesty. And especially today, because of your bravery. Your words remind us all that we are not alone in our struggles. And sometimes, it helps most to hear it from a complete stranger, who, in some weird way, feels like a friend. Thank you. I'm so sorry for your loss.

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  67. longtime reader- just want to say, Sorry. It is hard. It will be hard for a while. Keep being honest with yourself.
    Blessings.

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  68. Another longtime reader here. I am so sorry for your loss. That was a beautiful tribute to your Dad. I cried reading it. He seemed like a wonderful man. Keep having hope. xx

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  69. I'm so sorry. Truly. I just finished my first year without my wonderful Dad, and it was rough. During that year I marveled, all the time, how people laughed, and had fun, and smiled, because those seemed so absent from my existence. Like you, I was with my Dad a lot in his last years, taking care of him, making decisions, sitting and holding his hand. When he died, I felt totally untethered and like the magnet holding my life together had suddenly run out of power. I understand the flood of emotions--deep sadness, fear, relief, anger, disbelief--that you may be experiencing right now. The world just doesn't feel right without our lovable, dear Dads being physically in it. Please know you're not alone, and that I (and so many others) am sending love and strength to you and your family. You'll always miss him; this painful load will lighten, though, I promise. Take good care. xo

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  70. I am in tears, and so happy I read this. I can relate very much. My dad has cancer and we've been told a year to five years. I hope it's much longer than five. Thank you for posting this. It helps to know that someone else feels so similar to what my family is going through.

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  71. Sending you strength and love during this difficult time. I can so relate to your comment about how you feel everything keeps moving but there is a huge whole in the world. When my Dad died, I remembered feeling as if I was standing still while the world was moving around me and everything was meaningless. I still remember the pain and the grief vividly, eleven years on. But I promise you - you won't be able to imagine it now - but life WILL get better again. Your grief feels like a deep, endless pit right now but you will start to feel more capable of the small things (grocery, sleep, personal hygiene) and one day soon, you will smile or laugh about something and slowly joy will start coming back into your world. Be gentle, reach out to friends and let them help you and support you.

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  72. Oh Rachel, I'm so so so sorry. My dad died February 15th, so I know what you are feeling. We just got back from the memorial service yesterday and "real life" feels like a slap in the face.

    I lost my mom when I was a teenager, so from experience, I know that we'll miss these precious souls every single day, forever, but it does get easier. Keep letting your friends and husband into your life - it helps so much. Many, many hugs to you.

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  73. Thank you for sharing about this. All my sympathy to you and your family. Thinking of you.
    Susan

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  74. Rachel, I'm so sorry for your loss. I lost my Dad a month ago to liver cancer. His was undiagnosed, likely for several years, so we were blindsided. The time from diagnosis to his passing was under a month. None of it seems real, but we have to trust in our own grieving process. We have to keep grocery shopping and living the day-to-day until it feels normal again. I'm keeping you and your family in my thoughts.
    Katie

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  75. I read your blog regularly, though I have never commented. I am so very sorry for your loss and am sending happy, healing vibes your way. Your words about your father and living with his illness are beautiful, moving, and so important. Thank you for sharing them with us. Sending you and your family love, happy thoughts, and wishes for peace and hope.

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  76. An excruciatingly beautiful tribute. Tearing up at my desk and thinking of you and your family.

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  77. I'm so sorry for your loss. Sending lots of hugs to you. I lost my dad last summer to cancer and I appreciate every word you shared here.

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  78. Oh Rachel, I'm so so so sorry. My dad died February 15th, so I know what you are feeling. We just got back from the memorial service yesterday and "real life" feels like a slap in the face.

    I lost my mom when I was a teenager, so from experience, I know that we'll miss these precious souls every single day, forever, but it does get easier. Keep letting your friends and husband into your life - it helps so much. Many, many hugs to you.

    (p.s. I already left this comment (above) but received an email that it was undeliverable to your blog, so wanted to try again)

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  79. I'm so sorry for your loss Rachel

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  80. You are so blessed to have had a father like him.
    A big hug to you!

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  81. I'm so sorry you are hurting, what a long road your family has had. Glad to hear that he didn't have those altering behaviors, that's a small blessing in all this. Cry all you want, you gotta get it out. Will be thinking of you.

    - random reader

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  82. I am so so sorry. I can only imagine your loss. What a beautiful post, it brought me to tears. Thank you for sharing. I'm a long time reader but I don't think I've commented before.

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  83. I am so so sorry. I can only imagine your loss. What a beautiful post, it brought me to tears. Thank you for sharing. I'm a long time reader but I don't think I've commented before.

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  84. Rachel,
    My heart leapt to my throat as soon as I saw your heading and I thought, oh gosh. It can't be.

    I am in complete shock and can barely type the words I'm seeing before me. You are so very brave and I just wish I could give you a hug. All of my love to you and your family. Your dad sounds like he was a wonderful person who loved you and your sister deeply. Lots and lots of love your way.

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  85. Rachel, I know nothing I say can truly help you through the kind of pain you are feeling but I am so sorry for your loss. Your father sounds like such an incredible man and this post is a wonderful testament to his life.
    Sending you as many virtual hugs as possible. Be kind to yourself, time will slowly help.

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  86. What a beautiful tribute. Thank you for sharing. The photo of you, your sister, and your Dad is just perfect. Thinking only the best thoughts for you.

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  87. Longtime reader, sadly I've never commented until now. :( This was so honest and beautifully written. My dad has been in remission with Leukemia and you just never know how long that will last. I've been so scared to lose my parents and everything you wrote resonated so deeply. I have no answers but I'm sending you lots of love, peace and strength. xoxo

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  88. My heart stopped for two seconds. I can't imagine what you are going through. I just want to say hang in there and big hugs. Sending you lots of love, hugs and strength.

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  89. The huge gaping hole seems like it should be visible to the world and it's hard to understand why it isn't when you're walking around doing the daily business of life. My grandmother passed away suddenly the day before your Dad and being my primary caregiver throughout my childhood she meant a great deal to me. Figuring out who I am without her physically here is something I am just beginning to understand. Maybe it's something we don't ever figure out but I do have to believe at some point we'll settle into this new reality as hard as that may be.

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  90. Thank you for sharing such a precious part of your life and your heart. How proud your father must be to have a thoughtful and creative daughter like you...

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  91. You really do have a way with words. I'm sitting at work crying. My heart goes out to you and your family. You are stronger and braver than you realize, and you will continue to be so. Lots and lots and lots of love.

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  92. What a beautiful tribute to your father. There are no words to ease the pain, but I wish you peace.

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  93. I am so sorry for your loss. Grief is so terrible and unwieldy. I am thinking of you and your family.

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  94. Rachel, what a beautiful post and a way to honor the memories of your father. So sorry for your loss, and sending love to you and your family.

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  95. im so sorry for your lost, in tears i send you lot of trength for you and D, so he can take care of you.
    Big hug from Chile

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  96. I'm so sorry to hear this news. I had this post sitting in my bloglovin the last few days, waiting for a chance to sit down and read it - slowly and thoroughly.

    My dad passed away from a canceorus brain tumour five years ago and I feel myself identifying with so much of what you wrote. From diagnosis to passing away, my dad had 9 months. Of course I wish we had more time, but on the other hand, they were the most exhausting, emotionally trying 9 months. I don't know if I could've done it for years and years. The tumour also changed my dad's personality a lot so it wasn't really him that was with us those last few months either.

    I'm glad you were able to spend quality time together right up until the end. Your father sounds like a great man. I really enjoyed reading your tribute.

    xx

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  97. This was so beautifully written and brought me to tears. I am so, so sorry for your loss. We lost a couple of family members this year too and I completely agree, it is such an odd feeling to have the world go on spinning around you when for you it has stopped, and to have to return to daily routines when you're still grieving. It sounds like your dad was an incredible man, and you will honor his memory by continuing on, one day at a time.

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  98. you are a light. thank you for your courage. in times of sadness -- when my core aches for the company of those whose physical presence has left this world, i turn to this (I *hope* it is helpful for you):
    Death is nothing at all.
    I have only slipped away to the next room.
    I am I and you are you.
    Whatever we were to each other,
    That, we still are.

    Call me by my old familiar name.
    Speak to me in the easy way
    which you always used.
    Put no difference into your tone.
    Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

    Laugh as we always laughed
    at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
    Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
    Let my name be ever the household word
    that it always was.
    Let it be spoken without effect.
    Without the trace of a shadow on it.

    Life means all that it ever meant.
    It is the same that it ever was.
    There is absolute unbroken continuity.
    Why should I be out of mind
    because I am out of sight?

    I am but waiting for you.
    For an interval.
    Somewhere. Very near.
    Just around the corner.

    All is well.

    Henry Scott Holland

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  99. Rachel,

    This was so incredibly beautiful to read, and I am sure it is only small testament of your father's immense and wonderfully rich character. I am so sorry for your loss. I am keeping you and your family in my thoughts.

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  100. Rachel,
    So sorry for your loss! What a handsome and kind man you are lucky to have had him in your life and he will still be there just in a different way. My dad passed 2 years ago, 5 months after my wedding and I just had my first child 3 weeks ago, it is sad that my son will never know my dad in the physical sense but he will know of him and there in joy in that. Your future children will experience the love you had for your dad and will know how great he was. Therapy is a great place to sort out of the feelings it would be a great gift to yourself. Sending love to you and your family.

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  101. This is heartbreaking and beautiful. It is so difficult to read, but I thank you for sharing and for your way with words. I'm crying for your family and your incredible father and also for mine. It is amazing how everyone has a story, isn't it? I stop by on occasion and would never have guessed our dads' stories were so similar. I can relate to everything you've written and I'm sorry to know you've had to endure our struggle and more. My family and I still have hope. Sending love and strength.

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  102. I'm so sorry for your loss. Tears are streaming down my face. I can't even begin to imagine your pain. Sending love and light.

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  103. I am so very sorry for your loss and my thoughts are with you and your sister. May your memories bring you peace, Thank you for sharing you beautifully written story.

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  104. I know that your father must have just been wholly and completely proud to have a daughter such as yourself (genuine, motivated, giving, talented, and appreciative). You are his legacy and I'm sure he died knowing it was in such capable hands. Condolences to you.

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  105. Having lost both my parents I can empathize with your profound loss. I am so sorry.

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  106. I am new to your blog and so very sorry for your loss. My mother died in October from non-alcoholic cirrhosis which led to tumors...and you know the rest . When you are not so raw from your father's loss, you may want to be tested for alpha1 antitrypsin disease. It's free and you can find out how to get the kit from their society. I discovered that this is the most common cause for nonalcoholic cirrhosis but not all doctors are aware of it. My mom turned out to be an MZ carrier (they get trouble, too) and so am I. Forewarned might be forearmed, I'm hoping. Again, my deepest condolences and hope this wasn't excessively intrusive. Kris
    lindquist@acd.net

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  107. I think losing my father was the hardest thing I've had to learn to accept. The fact that life is finite. That you don't always get to choose the end. You may not get to say goodbye. That each and every day is an opportunity to live the life that leaves behind the kind of imprint on this universe that you can be proud of. That's all we have . Accepting the full circle of life is a difficult but important pinnacle of learning. It makes all the moments we currently have that much more precious. So live it. Cherish it. Knowing that nothing lasts forever. Xx

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  108. so very sorry for your loss of your dad. In reading your post as well as the comments, it's just such a heartbreaking thing. My dad died 12 years ago, a 6 month battle w/ lung cancer. It doesn't get easier...it gets different but I still cry at the drop of a hat when I think too much about him. I related so much to your "tug of war" feelings -- I remember crying all the time around my dad and he was always so stoic -- I only saw him cry once when he got the final blow that it wasn't treatable/curable -- and he would ask me why i was crying and i could never tell him that i was so scared to lose him, that i would miss him so much etc etc and i'm still so mad at myself for not being more brave to voice that to him -- I thought at the time it would be admitting that i had given up hope -- like you said, hope was always there. I also remember on the night before he died, he was laughing and telling stories and acting so healthy and I went home that night and told my husband "he's not dying -- he's totally back to normal" and he died the next day. but I'm so glad I had that time to say goodbye. Peace to you, tears for you.

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  109. I am so sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to you and your family.

    I know that this must have been incredibly hard to write but I am grateful that you wrote it. My aunt is currently dying of ovarian cancer, after major surgery and lots of chemo last spring her numbers have spiked again less than a year after diagnosis. It is sad and hard and I feel helpless and unable to comfort her. But your words help, as I'm sure you can see from your litany of comments, It is a part of life - a shitty, rotten, sad, mean, ugly part of life - but a part of life, and you're right, in some ways this is a blessing, an opportunity to appreciate someone more fully before she is snatched away. Thank you for sharing. I wish you strength and peace. xx

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  110. Rachel, I'm so sorry to hear about your dad. Thank you for sharing your memories and your photos. Losing a parent is really fucking hard. My mom died from a brain tumour a few years ago and it's something that doesn't dig as hard anymore but still hurts. You'll always feel the loss but it's comforting to share and talk about it with friends and family. Big big hugs to you and your family.

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  111. Hi Rachel,

    I typed out a very heartfelt and emotional (and somewhat long) response near the time you posted, on my phone, and was gutted when, instead of posting, the entire thing deleted itself once I clicked through to send it out.

    I wish I could re-create all I wanted to tell you in that moment, because there was so much. Losing someone you really love is hard. I lost my grandparents, who essentially were my parents, my best friends, the coolest and most thoroughly GOOD (and funny and kind and fun) people you could ever hope to meet, just awesome human beings... But they are always with me, still here, and we talk sometimes, and I tell them about my life, and the amazing thing about them and us and this is that love stays. It stays.

    Even with my own dad, who I have not seen and in fact barely spoken to in almost a decade--something that your post has made me reckon with--despite some pretty terrible events, love stays. Those things, the funny, the silly, the happy things. You get to keep those always. So take heart that this is not an ending, but a transition.

    Mostly what I wanted to talk to you about at the time, though, was you. How brave you are. How fearless. How much integrity you have to take us with you into those dangerous and uncomfortable places we fear to go; into the hard or prosaic or not-all-that-glamorous parts of life we may wish weren't there but which exist. It is scary for me, certainly, to feel there will one day be an ending, even for what has been painful and hard to understand in my relationship with my dad. But you pull me through. You link us together. You guide and hold us and stand firm in your own recollections, your own realizations, your thoughts, your dignity, your life. And that is truly a small bright candle for everyone who reads you.

    I wish you many great memories, and so many vivid and happy re-tellings, to yourself and others. You dad already lives forever. Thank you for sharing him and yourself with us so candidly. And I hope that these comments let you know how much you are loved and appreciated.

    xxelle

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  112. i haven't stopped by in a while (#teamlazy), but today emily linked to you and i remembered how much i enjoy your blog. this post really hit home because my dad passed away march 7 of liver cancer. he definitely had each and every risk factor for the cancer (the fact that your dad didn't just breaks my heart!!!), and after being in pain with his hip and continually being sent home, he was given emergency hip surgery and that's when they found the cancer. he was given 6 months to live.

    i talked to him on the phone. he seemed fine. i told him i'd be there the next weekend. exactly one week later, i got there. he died 2 hours after i arrived. i saw him pass away and it was awful. it haunts my nightmares or when i'm alone at night, or even sitting in traffic. it's been 6 weeks now.

    i wrote about it and that also gave me comfort: http://ellesees.blogspot.com/2015/04/on-what-happens-when-your-dad-dies-guide.html (you can delete the link if you wish from the comments--i don't want it to be spammy).

    it is comforting to know i'm not alone, and that while the circumstances are unfortunate, that i feel a sort of sisterhood of us who have lost their fathers. i am truly sorry for your loss, and please know you aren't alone in this. i'm not a public crier either (i second the shower). thank you for sharing this with us. you didn't have to tell us anything but you did. this stuff gets better, right?

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  113. I came across your blog for the first time from a cupcakes and cashmere post about party planning. What a beautifully written post about your father. It always amazes me how well some people can articulate their thoughts and feelings into words. You truly have that gift. I hope you have found some peace with the passing of your father.

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  114. Your recollections are beautifully written and heartfelt. I was afraid to ask too many questions...I fell on my face, literally, in my studio when I heard the news and sobbed till I could not catch my breath...this year has been so emotional for the family. But we've been blessed too my love, you're the most perfect Auntie Rae, Nanny aka Tina

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  115. Somehow I missed this. But I'm so sorry. What a brave lady you are, sharing your feelings here. I hope our collective e-hugs are helping you know that you aren't alone. xo

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  116. I lost my dad to cancer also and I could totally relate to that feeling of not having kids yet ❤

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  117. I came across your blog via cupcakes and cashmere. I cannot articulate how much your post touched me, your words brought me to tears. I'm so sorry for your loss but I thank you for sharing. "It is better to have loved and lost than not to have loved at all." You are so lucky to have had such a great dad that left an everlasting imprint on you. I hope your memories bring you happiness of the times you shared with your dad, though I'm sure its hard not to be sad.

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