My dad died.
His death gave me three resets:
- I realized that I need to say what is on my mind or may never get that chance again;
- I realized that there is a point when it is OK to just give up because life CAN be too hard because that actually is not giving up, it is getting what you need;
- I realized that I needed to have a life even though my dad would no longer be a living part of it.
My dad had ALS. It was diagnosed over eight years ago, and had probably been going on for two-to-three years prior.
This disease is basically a death sentence where suffocate because your lung muscles just stop working. The average life expectancy is five years. It sucks for you and everyone around you watching you slowly lose control of everything but your brain.
He had been a vital and energetic man playing tons of tennis, hiking, leading hikes, a mean scrabble player and a fun person to be around. By the eighth year, dad was pretty much tired of living in a hospital room with very little contract with the outside world. It’s not that he did not have friends who loved him (over 145 people showed up to his memorial), he just was uncomfortable with visits because he could not walk, could not play games easily, choked while he ate (which scares the bejesus out of you) and could not be understood when he spoke.
California passed the right-to-die act (it took effect in June, 2016). My Dad realized that he wanted to take advantage of this new act. I know he was afraid that his wife (not my mom), children (me and my sister), sister and GOD might not accept this choice so did not immediately do anything about this.
He did mention this to his minister who visited regularly in his hospital room, he also mentioned to his social worker. THIS IS THE PART WHERE I REALIZED IT IS OK TO GIVE UP. These two (minister and social worker) ended up hearing my dad’s plea for help and guidance which got this in motion. THS IS THE PART WHERE I REALIZED YOU NEED TO SAY WHAT IS ON YOUR MIND.
Family meeting occurred and the whole family agreed this was the right thing for Dad, so it would be the right thing for us – even though we fully understood the impact of supporting this decision. I can tell you there are still many “kinks” in this process and my dad had to starve himself for 16 days before it could enacted. THIS IS THE PART I REALIZED ABOUT GETTING WHAT YOU NEED. My dad needed this. He hated being trapped in this body where he could not control so much and he was losing more control daily.
My dad got his wish on November 8, 2016. It was not a fun day but it was such a relief for him to finally be at peace and out of that cursed body. All immediately family was present – not sure that is what he wanted but I figured there is some give and take when you actually have a day/time when you are leaving this world AND you want everyone to support this decision.
THIS IS THE PART WHERE I REALIZED I NEED TO HAVE A LIFE EVEN THOUGH MY DAD WOULD NO LONGER BE A LIVING PART OF IT. Something important happens and I think- “oh Dad would love to hear about that” or “I should save this for dad to look at” or “Dad’s birthday is coming up how can we make it the best celebration possible with his condition.”
Now when I pass where he lived on my way to work, I have little conversations with him in my head. I don’t know or care if he can hear them because it is part of how I am having a life without my dad. I am sure it will become easier as the years go by and more things fill up the space. Obviously, this RESET is a work in progress. Maybe all resets are works in progress.