The Hardest Conversation

The hardest moment of the entire year was after my dad was put on hospice. The hospice nurse was coming later that afternoon to admit him to hospice.

That morning he started having a harder time breathing. He was sweating more. He was so anxious and kept checking his oxygen saturation and his heart rate. I could tell he wasn’t doing well. His heart rate was hovering in the 120s and his sats, despite the oxygen, were dropping to the mid 80s.

My dad was dying.

Well, I knew my dad was dying, just days prior he was given 2-3 weeks to live. The cancer had spread to his femur, his colon, both lungs, and his neck.

But now, my dad was actually dying. I knew it. He didn’t.

My dad was not an anxious person but that morning he was.

Mom and I were whispering in the kitchen about how difficult this was going to be if he was going to be this anxious. It was so hard to watch him knowing this was the beginning of the end.

I was helping him to the bathroom. He was to the point he needed helping walking and getting around.

He asked me “Do you think I should go back in? Do you think this is pneumonia again?”

I took a deep breath. I could lie. I wanted to lie so bad. I wanted to tell him that he would feel better once we got him settled in the recliner. I wanted to tell him that antibiotics could fix this. I wanted to reassure him.

I couldn’t lie.

I took a deep breath. My voice shook. “No dad, I think this is the hard part.”

I told my Dad he was dying.

Instantly we both were sobbing. He held his head in his hands and cried like I’d never seen him cry before. I rubbed his back. We cried together in the bathroom. It was maybe one of 3 times I’d seen my Dad cry in my life. It was the first and only time I’d ever seen him sob.

After a few minutes he told me something I’ll never forget.

“You know Kalissa, you’re one tough son of a bitch. I could never do what you are doing for me.”

“How could I not do this for you Dad? You were such a good dad to me.”

We sat in silence a few more minutes. I’m not sure how much time went by.

When we eventually came out. I called the hospice nurse to make sure she brought medications to make Dad more comfortable when she admitted him to hospice.

Dad passed away 4 days later. The medications hospice provided helped ease his breathing and helped him relax.

I take great pride in knowing I made Dad as comfortable as possible during his final days. He was able to stay at home. Friends and family flooded the house those last few days.

We spent the Saturday before he passed away in the living room with him. We laughed, we cried, we planned his funeral, we took long naps.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I never want to forget those days and it hurts so bad to remember them.

I’m sitting here typing this and tears are streaming down my face. I was doing fine. Even with the holidays I was doing just fine.

This wave of grief came out of no where and I just needed to get these words and these pictures on paper.

I’m afraid I’m getting too comfortable in his absence. Am I not missing him enough? Am I working hard enough to keep his memory alive? Am I remembering him beyond his cancer diagnosis? Am I grieving the right way?

That’s what I have for today folks. Check back tomorrow morning for another post.

17 thoughts on “The Hardest Conversation

  1. Deborah DeBerrh says:

    Bless your heart. Grief is not something you can plan. You just go through each day and you’ll find yourself laughing and smiling, and wonder if what happens afterwards is guilt. That’s the way it happened for me. I would take what joy and happiness came along each day, but when I came to something good happening I wanted to tell my mom and dad. My dad died 25 years ago and my mom 15 years ago and I still want to share with them. It’s hard and each person is different in recovering. You have two beautiful children that will offer you a new hope each day watching them grow. Just snuggle and thank God you were blessed with such sweet parents. God bless and keep you.

  2. Marilyn says:

    Those questions can only be answered by you. And they can change from day to day, minute to minute. Having dealt with this with my Mom it’s so hard. God bless you for your words of compassion, love , strength. Sending you a huge hug .

  3. Dian says:

    What a wonderful gift you gave your Dad-your time and honesty, as painful as that that was. The pictures of family and friends honoring your Dad’s last days are a showcase of strength and love. Waves of grief and times of sadness come and go as we think of those we love who are now a but a memory. Keep writing; you do a wonderful job.

  4. Ellie says:

    Thank you for writing a beautiful heartfelt post this morning. I know this wasn’t easy for you but it’s all part of the healing process. You gave him a gift no one else could give . Of course your life will go on and that is just as he would want it.

  5. Donna says:

    Sweet girl, grief takes on many faces. And gives us more questions than answers. Take one day at a time. Don’t try to answer the questions because that only adds to the struggle. Let them come and let them go. And do what you can. Time won’t heal the wounds but becomes a band aid that will need to be changed occasionally.
    Words from a friend of mine.
    Love and prayers

  6. Jill Klop says:

    Such a powerful post today. Like your mom, your posts are written so well. I know this post is going to help someone else out there. Thank you for sharing this. I think the way you’ve shared your grief journey is a real tribute to your dad.

  7. Marianne Barta says:

    You are a wonderful daughter. Bless you for all your did for your Dad and now for your mother. This wonderful post will help a lot of people going through the same process. Hugs and prayers to you

  8. Sharon says:

    I was with both of my parents in their last days. It is one of the hardest things to do, but like you, I’m so glad I was there with them. And I could not thank Hospice enough for the help they provided for both me and my parents as we faced that journey together. Those folks are amazing

  9. Tanya says:

    Grief is it’s own animal. My mom died in an accident- crushed accidentally by equipment operated by my dad. My grief comes and goes in, what seems like, a random way. Some days I think it’s going to be bad, like her birthday, I feel fine. Other days it hits like a brick wall. I feel for you and so admire the way you share with us. There aren’t magic words to make it better. But I’m sending you a virtual hug.

  10. Penny Holliday says:

    What a brave & powerful post today, Kalissa! I am sure that you helped many in similar circumstances!
    I hope writing this has helped you. Bless you!

  11. Susan the Farm Quilter says:

    Same road, different lane. You were in the fast lane with your dad’s journey last year. I have been on the same road to heaven with my dad for the last 4 years…we’re taking the scenic back roads, which is how he always preferred to travel!! Reading what you went through with your dad makes me really appreciate the slow road with mine. As an only child, and my mom died in 2011, it is quite different from the support you have from your family. My closest daughters are over 1,500 miles away, so their support is via the phone. My husband is holding down the farm 750 miles away, and you know what that means. Hospice is a Godsend, but there are limits as to what they can do as well. Grief, as time goes on, reminds me of the ocean…most of the time it gently rocks you, but you need to be aware of “sneakers”, the waves that are abnormally large and can sweep the unwary off the beach and they are always a surprise. You are grieving in a way that can only make sense to you, but it is totally a personal journey. Don’t over-think it…you are doing it your right way!

  12. Rachel Summy says:

    Your family is remarkable. Don’t beat yourself up over what-ifs and could I do more thoughts. Don’t forget you needed to respect your dad and let him also walk his journey. which you all did. Your continued work educating others to get their lungs checked and keeping healthy will make a difference! Grief is a personal journey and your sharing is very helpful and insightful to so many. Hugs and prayers for all of you!

  13. Lace Faerie says:

    Having just lost my Daddy 10 days ago, I am drowning in tears reading this account. Your bravery…WOW!! I am not sure I could have done that.

    The only thing I can offer in comfort, is to tell you that although the grief will always be there , it won’t always bring you to your knees. The day will come when the rawness fades and your smiles will come easier. The loss of my Mama was devastating, she was my best friend, my confidant and the ruler I use to measure my own success as a mother and a grandmother. I can now say that my Mama has passed away without the tears.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *