Monday, October 22, 2012

Guest Blogger: Teresa Kelly Farley

The journey through loss and grief.

Death has been on my mind a lot lately…’s been a couple of months since I lost a childhood friend and this month marks the 4 year anniversary of my father’s death.

I have had a few conversations about the journey from life into death….there is even a question on the ballot this November. It is regarding Physician Assistant Suicide….if it passes; someone can actually go to a pharmacy with a prescription from their doctor and take pills to commit suicide.  Not judging here, but WOW!

If you ask me whether I would take a long winding road to death or a short quick road, I would choose the long, winding road every time. Here’s why:
It has been 4 years this month since I lost my dad. He was 71, a husband of 46 years, a father of 10, grandfather of 27 (and still counting)….and friend to all.

He was first diagnosed with skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma) in 2004. This form of skin cancer is easily treated and so we thought all would be well. However, my father had noticed an issue some 10 years earlier and had not gone to a doctor. Still, they were able to take out the tumor, do a skin graft and all seemed good.

In 2007 we found out he was sick again. The skin cancer that he had a few years earlier had come back and had now spread to his bones. There was little to be done at this point and he was not willing to give chemo a try because he felt it was just not worth losing what little time he might have feeling sick all the time.

I was angry…….SO angry! At him, at the dr’s (but really, more at him). Why didn’t he bother to go to the dr all those years ago when he first noticed something was wrong? Why did he let his fears get in the way? Why was I losing my father and my children their grandfather when this didn’t have to happen?

I went into panic mode….I had to do something! I started reading everything about the cancer and what could be done. As dad always taught me, knowledge is power and I needed to feel powerful in the moment. But I could find nothing about it that would change the outcome…..once cancer goes to the bones, there is nothing to be done. I was powerless…..

During the next year and a half, I had a glimpse of my father in many forms and there were many blessings. He was always there for me, whenever I needed him. I took full advantage of all the time we had. We spoke everyday and I was with him as much as possible. My siblings and I and our mother had time together as a family, more than we had in many years since we were all spread out around the country. He suffered a lot, but he was undeniably strong through this. I cried…..everyday, but I also gained a strength that I cannot put into words.

On October 29th, 2008, I was holding my father’s hand as he passed on. I am forever grateful for that moment, when he squeezed my hand, sat up and took his last breath. I knew it was coming (which is why I had not let go of his hand in 5 hours), yet it was the single most difficult thing I have ever done. I miss him everyday…..I still go to pick up the phone and call him. I don’t know if that will ever change and in some ways I hope it doesn’t.
I am not angry anymore (ok, maybe still a little)…..but mostly I am just sad. I am sad because my kids won’t get to listen to my dad tell stories and give advice….and he was the smartest, funniest, most gentle sweet soul I have ever known. I am sad because I still need him here….

So back to that question of whether to take the long, winding road or the short, quick one….I still choose the long winding road because I had so many more moments with him, even the tough ones….and I would give anything just to have even one more!

This is breast cancer awareness month…..take it a step further and think about cancer in all forms. Do you have a mole that you are not sure about? do you have a family history of cancer? GET CHECKED!

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