2 Kitties + 1 Doggie

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This is an older picture – probably 5 years ago. It’s my kitties and my big teddy bear, Zeke. I love the way everyone is just hanging out together. He got along really well with the cats. Also, one of my cats looks seriously evil in this picture.

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No sense – puppy!

So, this started off as an attempt to have an outlet for the hundreds of confusing, conflicting feelings I was experiencing as a result of my father’s death. But frankly it required too much effort. So instead I’m going to use this as a place to rave about my pets. It won’t make any sense to anyone who finds this site by accident but posting pictures of my pets for my own enjoyment and memory making is fine with me.

Here you will see my youngest dog having a dream. Isn’t he precious?? I could watch him sleep for hours

“Promise me I’ll be the first person you call when you find out you’re pregnant.”

On my trip to see my parents several weeks ago, my Dad and I had a pleasant talk about what I want to do with the rest of my life. I told him that I hoped to finish my PhD by Christmas. He (like everybody else in my life) asked me what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, and with a PhD in social work. I told him I didn’t really know. I’d gone back for my doctorate because I had a career crisis about 3 years ago and decided I needed to either go back to school or quit the profession altogether. I told him that it I was dreaming big that I’d love to end up high in administration for one of the national mental health organizations – SAMHSA, Department of Health & Human Services, etc. – where I could try to impact mental health policy on a larger level. He nodded his head and said he could see me doing that. I think he was being kind – frankly my anxiety and lack of social skills are likely to keep me from positions like that. But, I also told him that once I had my diploma in hand, I really wanted to start a family.

I know Dad has high hopes that he would be able to meet a grandchild produced by me and my husband. But, frankly, he probably gave up on that hope when I informed him I was going back to school. He knew that my mental health would not allow me to juggle work, school, and new motherhood. So, children would be delayed until after graduation. During our conversation it was understood, though not explicitly acknowledged, that he would not be a part of the life plans that I was describing. I tried to frame everything in the most positive, optimistic terms possible – in a rather pitiful attempt to assure him that he didn’t need to worry about me. I want him to die feeling confident that his family, which he’s worked so hard to take care of, will always be safe and successful. I don’t want him to die with fear or worry that we won’t be able to care for ourselves. Frankly, there’s a lot of dysfunction in the family so I don’t know if we will be safe and successful but I really want us to fake it for the next 6-8 weeks.

The next day, I was talking to him while he was lying in bed. He did his usual thing of making me promise to take care of my mother after he dies. He’s always lived in fear that she won’t be ok without him. A legitimate fear as mom’s got…. “issues.” But, my sisters and I have always promised to do everything we can to care for her. I think he’s particularly worried that I won’t do my part – Mom and I have a strained relationship at times – but I’d never not try to take care of her. Her mental health (and lack of willingness to engage in treatment) makes her hard to deal with, and I anticipate that after Dad’s death things will get pretty ugly, but I’d never abandon her to face things on her own. Just because she has declined to work on her own “issues” over the years, doesn’t mean I didn’t spend a decade in therapy working on my own.

But, I digress. So Dad and I were chatting and he suddenly comes out with “promise me I’ll be the first person you call when you find out you’re pregnant.” It makes my chest ache a little. Did he forget our conversation the day before about waiting until after December? Does he think this is happening soon? Did he forget about his terminal diagnosis and the near-impossibility that he will still be alive in December? Was he purposefully ignoring the fact that his heart disease is at the end-stage and operating from a bit of a fantasy mode where he imagines receiving a joyful phone call from me announcing that I’m going to be a mother?
Whatever it is, it feels like my heart is being squeezed when I hear him say that. I’m a little taken aback and all I can do is make an awkward joke about maybe needing to call my husband to tell him first. He then tells me that he is tired and going to take a nap. We don’t talk about my future again during the remainder of my visit. I briefly consider inventing a pregnancy just so that he can experience the joy he is obviously looking forward to. But, I’ve never been good at lying.

Effort seems pointless

Losing my father, I want to scream, but the effort seems pointless. He’s not dying today. He’s not dying this week. He might die this month. He’ll definitely die this year. If I screamed or cried now, I’d never be able to stop. Every day is another step towards death. Every day another change is made in the house to accommodate his death. Every change is like getting news of his death again. First it was hospitals, then home health care workers. Next it was a 24-hours medication pump as a last ditch effort to force his heart to work. Then it was the news that home health was to be discontinued and hospice services would start. “Oh, people can live on hospice for a long time, these days.” Or “my friend had a grandmother who lived so long they took her OFF of hospice.” Well, it’s not that kind of party around here. The hospice nurse comes, followed by a hospital bed and other medical equipment. Finally a social worker visits, bearing Do Not Resuscitate paperwork for the EMS in case death comes quickly, instead of mind-numbingly slow process as it is expected to be. Hospice brings benzodiazepines and opiates so that he won’t panic as his body drowns itself in fluids his heart is no longer strong enough to pump off. He will feel like he can’t breathe. While we watch, helpless to do anything besides offer more medication. It seems to me that hospice should bring the benzodiazepines for the family as well. What are we to do as we watch him drown? Talk about the weather?

At this point I pray for a heart attack. He doesn’t deserve to suffer. God, if there is one, be merciful and take him quickly. Don’t make us watch as his life slowly slips away. There has already been so much pain and suffering over the course of his 30 year illness. Let this part be quick.

The Journey Begins

This blog isn’t intended to offer advice or really do much of anything at all besides allow me a place to try to process grief about my father’s death. My writing is pretty steam of consciousness and I make no guarantees of clarity or sense. If chronicling my journey and processing my grief in this manner is helpful to another grieving person out there, I am glad for it.

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