When It’s Terminal

Around Christmas my dad was diagnosed with cancer in his brain. During the course of the next two months we learned that chemo wasn’t going to be much help and our focus turned to making the time he had left be as comfortable as possible.

The second day of finals week I had the conversation that I had been dreading. I called my mom to ask if I should come home early for my birthday, I live far away and traveling home requires a plane, I wanted to be there for my family and maybe see my dad one last time. She told me that my dad had passed away earlier that day.

I knew it was going to happen, and I had said my goodbyes when my parents came to visit just weeks before, but that still doesn’t mean I was prepared for what happens. No one is prepared for losing someone you love.

Nothing can prepare you for those moments when you would give anything to hear them laugh one more time, or when you need to tell them something that happened and you have to decide who you tell now. No one prepares you for the moments that you are crying over ice cream because it was their favorite flavor, and you can’t share it with them. No one tells you that birthdays hurt because they knew you at one age, and now you will no longer be that age again. A permanent reminder that the world keeps moving even when they are no longer there.

My mom was amazing. She moved forward, keeping him alive every way she knew how. I always knew my mom was strong, but she keeps proving it to me every day. My brother wrote and delivered the eulogy. He has always had a way with words, and I couldn’t be prouder of the image that he painted of our dad that day.

My dad and I shared a love for tattoos, and before I traveled back to school I had to get one for him. I got the words “Just remember what I taught you and you’ll be fine” over my left ribs. My dad was an amazing teacher, both in and out of the classroom, and this tattoo is a permanent reminder of the lessons he taught me.

The first books I read after he died was the “Monsters of Verity” series. What I took away from these books is something I will keep with me for the rest of my life. They show you that life is full of pain, most of it unavoidable, but to make life worth the pain.

My dad knew the pain life had, but he lived every moment to make his life worth it. Now I do the same.

Make it worth the pain.

 

~Mads

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