How to deal

I’ve sat staring at my PC screen for a few minutes now, wondering how to start this post. It’s something that I need to write about, a subject that actually pushed me back into blogging as a form of release. But this subject is not easily written about. Partly because it’s such a bit unknown, but mostly because I think I’m in denial.

A few weeks ago my sister contacted our family priest to do a reading for her husband. For those of you who don’t know, in the Hindu religion/culture, we go to our priests to do a reading on our lives. The details involve our names, date of birth, etc. and the priest assists in giving us some direction or pointers. It’s not an exact science and free will goes along way in changing the outcome of one’s future. But if we’re going through a difficult time then it helps to get some guidance.

Our priest is in India even though we stay is South Africa and contacting him is a bit difficult. We usually correspond via email. Imagine our surprise when he phone my sister saying that he needed to speak to her? While doing a reading for my sister he picked up on something about my father and then proceeded to do a reading for him.

The news that he had to pass on was not very good. My father’s health has been on the decline for very many years. He’s an alcoholic and diabetic and is on to many chronic meds to even mention. He’s lost a lot of weight in recent years and doesn’t consume enough food to sustain his body. We’ve known this for a while but there’s nothing that we can do to change it. We’ve tried everything to get him to change his habits, begging, pleading, threatening, emotional blackmail, manipulation even, but nothing seems to help. He’s aware of his condition and the consequences of his actions but he doesn’t seem to want to live a better or healthier life.

A few weeks ago he fell in the shower and his health took a sudden, very sharp, decline. He was throwing up and falling down all the time. He couldn’t sleep and his body started to ache. It got so bad that my mum had to take him to the loo and help him bath. She even has to turn him over at night because he has no strength to turn. He has lost so much of weight that he’s staring to get bed sores even though he’s not bed ridden.

It was around this time that the priest called us. To sum it up, my dad doesn’t have very long to live. His health will continue to decline until his organs can’t sustain his body anymore and they will start failing. The priest knows us very well and particularly likes my father. He says he is telling us this so that we can make the best of the time that we have with him and make sure that we are at peace with him before he dies.

We took him to the hospital in the hopes that they can help him. He wasn’t even admitted. According to the doctors there’s nothing they can do. He just doesn’t take in enough calories to sustain his organs so they are starting to fail. Just like that. Do no pass begin, do not collect R200. The doctors have given him a few months at most.

Now, how does one go about one’s life with the knowledge that their parent is, at this present moment, dying? At first we were all frantic, rushing to my parents house whenever we could, we stopped all social activities and would spend all our time there. My heart would pound every time I’d seem my mum calling me, thinking that she’s calling to say my dad is in trouble. Every morning I’d come to work feeling sick because I should actually spending time with my father. When ever I look at my son I’d think of the fact that he’ll never remember his grandfather. That my father will never see him ride a bike or go to school or drill him about his first girlfriend. He’ll never see any other children I might have. He’s going to miss so much. I began living like he had already died.

Then one day someone told me something that made me swing to the exact opposite side of the spectrum. The words were ‘knowing someone is going to die and experiencing the pain of the actually dying are two vastly different feelings.’ And I thought about how I was feeling and I realised that truer words were never said. My pendulum swung back almost immediately because how can he possibly die now? For all the reasons above he should live a much longer life. He’s only 66 after all. He started walking again using a walker and he hasn’t fallen in weeks. His health could be taking a turn for the better, right?

With those thoughts came some sort of relief. I stopped anticipating the worst, no longer worrying if every time I see him, will it be the last? No longer torturing myself in the those quiet minutes before sleep takes a hold, imagining his funeral, how he’ll look, how my mom will deal, what I’d do so that my son is ok. No longer worried at all. Am I in denial? Maybe. But HOW ELSE DO I DEAL?

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2 thoughts on “How to deal

  1. This does open so much scope for deep thought! My take on it is that every person one knows might conceivably be dead the next hour, day, month or year. Accidents, sudden illnesses – these happen all the time. A cousin was diagnosed with inoperable cancer over a year ago. She is still around, but three other cousins or friends who were offering sympathy are no longer with us.
    Just because an illness gives a probable time limit on a life shouldn’t make that much difference to how one treats them. If everyone behaved to everyone else as if they knew they were on the way out, how much nicer a world there would be.

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