I think this next part of my story was the most confusing stage for me. I’ve used the word confused a few times throughout my previous posts, I think that is because I don’t know how I felt when I was writing or if it’s because I still don’t know how I feel about the experience.
It was Saturday, June 2nd 2018, 12:25pm when a message from Mum came through.
“We definitely won’t be heading to the Gold Coast in the near future. They are trying to manage dad’s pain & will then be admitted here. If you girls wanted to come home there are flights tomorrow. Talk to each other & let me know xx”
I dropped my phone. When I read Mum say “there are flights tomorrow”, I knew I was going home. Mum often said we could go home whenever we needed but never really encouraged it, because Dad was sticking around. So, when I saw she had already looked at flights, I knew going home was the only option.
I called Belle and tried to put words together to say “I’m going home”. I met her in Mount Isa that night. We flew out of Mount Isa, with a stopover in Brisbane and then Sydney before landing in Dubbo on Sunday night. We were picked up by family and taken straight to Lourdes House to see Dad.
The next two weeks to follow were quite possibly the longest and most confusing weeks I have sat through. I knew Dad wasn’t well because Mum had cancelled their trip to the Gold Coast for treatment but I had gotten so use to Mum and Dad saying “we’ve found another treatment” or “there are more options”.
It wasn’t until 4 maybe 5 days before he passed when I decided to look up what Lourdes House was. I soon realised that he was in the Palliative Care unit. Naturally, I looked up palliative care, and that’s when it first sunk in that Dad may not go home again. For those of you who don’t know, Palliative Care is end of life care. It aims to improve the quality of life for both the patient and their family, focusing on providing them with relief from the symptoms, pain, physical and mental stress of a terminal diagnosis. The hardest part of this I guess was seeing him in such high spirits but knowing he wasn’t going to make it. I knew he was a fighter, but so was the cancer and I just didn’t want to think that the cancer would take the best of him.
After seeing Dad up and walking after they said he wouldn’t, I booked my flights back to Mount Isa for the weekend, as I had made prior commitments with the Cloncurry Show. It was Wednesday morning and we were sitting at the Dubbo Airport. Mums phone rang, she answered it then got up and walked away. Belle and I didn’t get on the plane that morning, instead we went back to the hospital for what we were told was our final goodbye.
I never wanted to think that Cancer could beat Dad, he was the toughest man I have ever met. So, if he couldn’t beat Cancer, who could.
As you would have read, I titled this particular part of my story ‘The Acceptance.’ While it may not read many words, it is to me a fundamental stage in my story. I don’t think that anyone should ever have to accept that they are about to lose someone so close. I don’t think a wife should have to accept that she is about to lose her husband, her best friend, under any circumstances. I don’t think a son should have to accept that his dad’s time has come and he won’t be relying on him the next time he needs help. I don’t think any daughter should have to accept that her father won’t be the one to walk her down the aisle.
But I had to accept it. I had to accept that it was the last time I was going to hold his hand. I had to do this so that I could say goodbye without being caught up in my own world. I didn’t accept that I was about to lose Dad until his final few days. In a sense I am grateful for this, I wasn’t living my final memories with Dad on a timer, instead I was completely present. But in some way’s I wish I had of accepted it early. The time I spent away from Dad could’ve been time I spent with him. But I chose not to live in the regret of memories not created but cherish the memories I have. And I couldn’t encourage anyone anymore then to do so.