This post is dedicated to my Pop, Robert W. Allen AUG 15 1956 – AUG 19 2015
Have you ever thought about who the constants are in your life, the ones who have been there for you no matter what. The ones that grounded you, made you feel like the person you are, give you a clear sense of reality. For a lot of people their constant is with a best friend, a partner, but it occurred to me recently that my parent’s, where and always have been my constant. When you loose a constant, its like you loose a piece of yourself. As though someone reached into your soul, and ripped out just enough to make you feel like the wind has been knocked out of you. You feel as though the walls are slowly closing in and the sky is falling. The difficult thing about loosing some constants is that they are irreplaceable, no matter how hard you try or what you do that piece of you that is gone will never come back. For some people the only constant in there life is Change, or Chaos because just maybe it is the only thing you’ve ever known to follow through.
For me, I remember being in my early 20’s and finding out my dad had a brain tumor. Suddenly everything in my world stopped. After spending my entire childhood with a father in liver failure, I thought this must be a joke. There is 100% absolutely know way this could be happening again. The thought of possibly loosing him again tore my world apart. It caused me to reflect on my life and make a drastic change. I ended a relationship and moved back in with my parents. Some people can look at is as the only reason I moved back in with them was because it was easy, but the truth is there is nothing easy about moving back in with your parent’s at 20 years old, especially when your dad is going through one of the scariest health crisis’s.
For me, my partying stopped, my dating stopped. When I wasn’t working, I was home; spending time with my parents. Helping with dinner, driving to doctors appointments, chemo, radiation, you name it I helped where I could. Sometimes I sit back and wonder, did I do enough? When you’re 21 years old and all of your friends are going out to the clubs, partying drinking and your father is dying from a brain tumor it makes all the fun they are having seem like the least entertaining thing to do. Slowly over time it went from invitations to club hopping or parties slowed down, along with the interest of people who I thought were my best of friends spending time with me. There was no interest to have a relaxed night at a brewery or just dinner or even a movie.
In moments like these I believe my dad saw more of me than I even saw of myself. I often found myself spending a lot of time with him, maybe just around the house and other times going out to movies, car shows or even just the grocery store. Being that I have always had a close relationship with my mom, we all just seemed to fall in sync with each other. Before I knew it my parent’s were really the only ones I had a desire to spend time with so I can’t blame the loss of friends totally on others; over time I cared less about trying to explain to someone how I was feeling or where I was coming from in a situation they would never understand. Just like that my dad and I went from me having a childhood relationship where we never really got along to him becoming the person I talked to about everything. Boy’s, Dating, Work, Friends, you name it we talked about it. (well lets be honest there were a few details I left out, he’s my dad after all).
I will never forget the day that my world came collapsing down on top of me; and nothing would ever be the same again. It started off just like any normal Thursday. We had a Management Meeting at work, with a special presentation, I can’t remember what it was for but I had to be there, and early at that. It was 4 day’s after my dad’s 59th birthday. He had started not feeling well (at least that is what I thought in my state of denial); which happened when he would do a lot of things. Since we had gone to the movies and dinner for his birthday we figured it was as much and didn’t think too much of it. I remember getting several texts from my mom in the meeting just checking on how things were and then the text that changed everything. “You need to get home now”, I never knew 6 words could be so powerful.
Of course I dropped everything, and was there with in the next 20 minutes. I will never forget, nor will I get the image scrapped from my mind, seeing my dad in complete organ failure, hallucinating from the lack of oxygen and being told I couldn’t call 911. In my mind, I would call them they would patch him up at the hospital and we would go back home. Even though I knew nearly 1 year prior the doctors said he had 3 months to live, with that I should have been prepared for what was coming; but nothing can prepare you. I spent more than 50% of my 25 years on this planet preparing for this moment; knowing it would happen but all I could think of is my dad always saying he was diagnosed with “HTK” because he was Hard to Kill. He always made it through the impossible, so surely this couldn’t be it. The hospice nurse arrived and began to tell us to prepare ourselves. I couldn’t believe this was actually happening. I sat there with him when I could but mostly took action, calling family members trying to get ahold of everyone, because you see for me the best way to deal with a crisis is to jump into action. If I am focused on the task at hand there isn’t time to cry, to breakdown and in all honesty I knew I needed to be the strong one, he would have wanted me to be and in this moment it wasn’t about me, it was about him and what he needed.
After the most agonizing, soul wrenching hour, no more than 5 minutes after my brother arrived surrounded in my childhood home by my mom, brother, sister-in-law, grandpa, uncle and the hospice nurse we watched my dad take his last breath. In my life, I had never lost someone close to me. Sure I had lost animals, had friends who had family members die or extended family members of my own but never something when it was someone I had such a bond with. The next hour following everything seems like such a blur, I hardly remember many details aside from the fact that I couldn’t bring myself to enter the room once it happened. After seeing his last breath escape you could see in his eyes that he was gone, I couldn’t bring myself to look him, because to me it wasn’t him anymore, his soul was gone. I would never get the comfort of a hug after a long day. I would never get the chance to hear another Dad joke followed by his infectious laugh. I would never get a chance to have another Daddy Daughter movie date that we so frequently had. From that moment forward nothing would ever be the same again.
Some times I have people ask me why do I say my Mom is my best friend and my dad was one of them. To me, there is no better person to have as your best friend. I grew up in a unique situation that not most people have to deal with it and despite all of the bad things that happened, I was able to walk away as a young adult with having the 2 best friends I could ever ask for. 2 people who with out a shadow of a doubt would always have my best interests, never be disloyal, never fight with me about liking the same boy or put me in situations where I am uncomfortable. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have other friends, but there is a difference between having a best friend and a friend.
In August it will be 3 years since my Dad has passed away, and the one thing that I know is that I was right, Nothing would ever be the same again. Being sick throughout the past 9 months have been one of the most difficult times I’ve endured since him passing that I have had to deal with. Mostly because I know that if anyone would be able to understand what I am going through, it would be him. He would be constantly giving me tips, or telling me what I am doing wrong so I can get better. He would be at every appointment, every hospital stay, every surgery. I could see him coming over to the Condo to visit carrying his favorite snacks and our favorite movies with the Shit-Eating grin knowing that’s the best medicine a doctor could order.
Its been 976 days since my dad passed away, each day I have never missed him any less. Knowing that he will never be her to walk me down the isle when I get married again, because my 1st marriage shouldn’t even count after everything I went though. Knowing that he will never meet the man in my life who has made it better in so many ways. Knowing he will never meet my children I have yet to have. Knowing all of this it never gets easier. Instead, I am left with the fiction in my mind of “what if’s”.
Some times the “what if’s” are the worst part of my health right now. Sometimes they hurt more than any amount of nerve pain. I am so abundantly thankful to have had my Mom and Nate with me through out this whole health scare. By no means does it replace the fact that my Dad isn’t here to help me through this but I in no way would be able to have gone through this far with out them. They have been my rocks. Nate has truly been a blessing; this all began a week after we started dating, yet here he is nearly 9 months later and we’ve moved in together, with one of my dogs and we have our own little humble abode. I have no idea what is happening next but I am so thankful to have them as my constants to keep me grounded but also let me lean on when I am not strong enough on my own.
Until next time…