A New Blog Series: A Fatherless Daughter

My Dad died from lung cancer on June 2nd 2019.

I was doing okay. Actually, I was feeling guilty about how okay I was doing. And now I’m not.

Right around this time last year my dad started spiraling. His cancer went from curable to treatable to terminal when the cancer metastasized to his neck, he broke his neck, the radiation burned his esophagus so bad he couldn’t even eat, needed a feeding tube and was in uncontrollable pain. It was traumatizing to witness such a strong man whither away.

I feel weird admitting that it was traumatizing. Who am I to be traumatized by someone else’s pain and suffering? What gives me the right to claim someone else’s story? But that’s how I can describe it: traumatizing.

I’m at peace with his death. The actual dying process was quite peaceful and I wouldn’t have pictured it any other way. The actual death wasn’t hard compared to the struggle and the suffering of those last 6 weeks.

That feeling of anxiety and desperation and hopelessness…it creeps back and I feel it rise up in my chest, into my throat and just like that it takes me back and I’m back at the hospital in Lacrosse with Dad in my mind, following the doctors out of rounds, pulling them aside and asking how long Dad has left to live. Mom and Dad didn’t know I was asking them that. I don’t think Dad ever knew that I asked his doctors about his prognosis in the hallway outside of his room. I knew it was bad. I didn’t know how bad. They told me 11 months. It wasn’t months, it was weeks.

I ordered flowers for Dad’s headstone, Carver and I paid a visit to the cemetery the other day. We raced out to his gravestone to see who could touch it first. Who would have thought last June that it would be possible to laugh like that. Before we left, Carver said, “Me miss you Papa Moo. Me loved to play cards with you. You’re in ours hearts.”

So as the anniversary of his death approaches, I’m going to be hosting a blog post series, helping me process the grief and anxiety of those final weeks. Everything happened so fast, we were living one tragedy and dose of bad news to the next. That will start tomorrow, April 23rd: the beginning of the end.



  1. Elle
    April 22, 2020 / 6:26 pm

    Hugs to you Kalissa. Losing Dad to cancer is most certainly traumatizing. I was just 33 (58 now) when my Dad died of his lung cancer. You have so much life ahead of you, your marriage and your beautiful sons that will share with you that Dad/Grandpa is not here. And as RNs, we both understand the disease so we go back and forth between the scientist/RN and the daughter. I encourage you to be the daughter as you continue working through the grief.

    God Bless you and and your family.

  2. Susan the Farm Quilter
    April 22, 2020 / 8:43 pm

    It definitely does suck to be a fatherless daughter. When my brother was killed (avalanche when skiing when he was 15), for the entire first year, I would think “a year ago Ricky was here”. After that first year, it became a little easier. Now, I’m thinking a yesterday dad was here, a week ago dad was here, a month ago dad was here. I’m blessed that I never had to deal with the hell of cancer with him, but watching the slow spiral down (4 years) takes a toll as well. You are laying out a path that I am sorta following. As the hole in your heart scabs over (never filled in, just a thin membrane, easily punctured or ripped), life piles on more love from family and friends, and time passes, the darkness/pain fades away a bit. Of course, we can count on those sneaker waves to crash over us at odd times. You are blessed to have a family filled with love from the time you were born, and love continues.

  3. Kim LeMere
    April 22, 2020 / 10:11 pm

    I’m so sorry that your father is gone. The pain will come and go as will the happy memories.

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