It's been 6 days now since my father-in-law left this world. I was at my son's little league game last weekend when my husband called me on my cell phone. "He's gone," he told me. 75 years on this earth and he was gone just like that.
It's not like we didn't see it coming. He had cancer. Things don't end well when the word cancer is involved. About 4 years ago during a routine check-up, a doctor discovered that he had an aortic aneurism, but before he could repair that a quadruple bypass was needed. That surgery came first. In the process of pre-surgery tests, a spot was noticed on his lung. Part of his lung was removed and it seemed that they'd gotten rid of the cancer. Finally, he had surgery to repair the aortic aneurism...it sure was a long route to get there...three major operations in about a year-and-a-half.
None of the operations seemed to slow him down. He was still doing everything he always did. Last summer, we were noticing a change in his voice. He also seemed to be getting winded more easily and more often. Our worst fears were confirmed last fall. The cancer was there again.
He started chemo and with that same invincible attitude he'd had all along, he bragged that he wasn't having side effects, even though we could see he was losing weight and energy. Within a week of his final chemo and radiation treatments, he was in the hospital with an infection. We weren't sure he'd ever leave the hospital, but he did. And even after he was home, we doubted he'd ever get out of the bed again, but he did. We didn't think he'd be able to leave the house again, but he did. Then over the past few weeks he declined. And we knew the end was inevitable. He had stage four cancer. We knew he wouldn't be recovering, but we'd seen him bounce back before and thought perhaps he'd do it again.
It's strange how each child reacts so differently to the same news. One doesn't hesitate to let the tears flow. Another is full of questions. Another shows no hint of emotion. Another retreats to another room. Another is in complete shock.
Just since he's been gone, there have been things this week I know he wouldn't have wanted to miss. He passed away the day before my oldest son's birthday. Three days later, his younger brother graduated from junior high and then today was his 14th birthday. We won't be gardening with him or watching parades or having barbecues. Those are the times we're going to really feel his absence because right now it's so fresh, it still feels like he's going to call on the phone or walk in the door.