Circle of Life

I don’t say much about real life. Nobody is very interested in that. I understand. Real life sucks. And I’ve not the slightest idea of how to get through it. I just wake up each day and try to keep going, keep fighting, keep living.

I’ve not talked here at all about my dad. I can’t ever explain how much I love my dad or how he’s always kept me going, but he did.

My dad was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago. It wasn’t the same cancer I’d survived or that my mom had survived. His was found too late for a cure.

It’s been maybe 3 years, but he was given 5-7 at diagnosis. We know he’s not going to survive. I’ve known this for years.

But, my dad was still my dad. I could still go see him in Arizona and at the lake. We could still be father and daughter and laugh and enjoy life. He could forgive everything and all my mistakes in life and I always forgave his.

When he’d left my mom and my mother and I were having some significant problems, I went to stay with my dad at the lake.

I remember, I’d asked him much earlier–“do you love me dad? Do you love me no matter what I did or how stupid it was?”

He said, “yes.”

He asked no questions about what I’d done. He’s pledged his love.

After my parents had separated, and I’d chosen to live with my dad, he was never home. I worked at a bar there and always came home to no one. I didn’t ask. I didn’t get angry.

One day, he asked me, “julie, do you love me? No matter what I do and no matter how stupid it is?”

I smiled because I remembered when I’d asked him the same.

Of course, I said, “yes, dad. I love you no matter what.”

I got used to dad being there when nobody else was. I need him to be there. But, I don’t want him in pain.

Cancer has spread to his bones and liver. He called me today to tell me. It’s been 24 years since we had that talk, but that talk meant everything to me.

Whatever you do, no matter how bad it is, I’ll still love you.

Don’t leave me.

One thought on “Circle of Life

  1. Jules,

    I’m going to be very honest and it may not be what you want to read, so decide if you want to continue.

    There is nothing I can say that will help or comfort you. My Dad died three years ago this June and it seems like just yesterday. It never gets easier or better, you just learn to go on, though a piece of you dies, too.

    I cry several times per week. Deep, hard sobbing. Every memory I have of him from back to the age of two (yes, that far) is still clear. Things he taught me, said to me, did for me, places he took me, and all those important things he gave me that cannot be purchased are alive, at the surface of my being. The love, understanding, empathy, compassion, kindness, are all within me and entwined with his being. I can still hear his voice and laugh, see his smile, feel his hugs, and listen to his music. Everything about him I can still feel.

    Some days that’s a blessing.

    Some days that’s a curse.

    So I cry. I weep. I sob. I get angry because I was robbed. He was stolen from me at only 76. I get irate at the world for taking a man whose only crime was caring too much about music and touching the lives of every student he could from age 6 to 30 or more. He taught grade school music and high school band and orchestra. He taught at the conservatory and he never gave a damn about money. If a student was good enough to be permitted to be a part of the conservatory, but didn’t have the money, Dad taught them for free, in his home. If they couldn’t afford an instrument, my Dad made sure they had one.

    In all of this, the thousands of lives he touched, he was always there for me. No matter the mistakes I made, he never castigated or berated me. He never once in my life made me feel lesser in worth. He was my greatest champion in life.

    I could go on and on. I’m writing a book about all of it, but the point is that losing my Dad, frankly, sucked. It still sucks and it will always suck. I miss him emphatically and relentlessly and no matter what I wish and how many times I ask the stars at night, he’s gone. He is never, ever coming back and I’m never, ever getting that piece of me back that died when he did.

    With whatever time you’ve been given that is left, I can tell you one thing you must do. It is imperative that you do so:

    Make more new memories. Laugh as much as you can. Have coffee or a beer. Eat ice cream. Whatever it is, just make more new memories until you’re not allowed to do so anymore. You both will part ways with those new memories and no new regret.

    I didn’t get a warning. My Dad was hiding much more than we realised. When he finally told me he was going to die, he said the doctor told him 6-12 months with a hopeful 18. He told me that on June 16th. He died 10 days later. No time for more new memories.

    There’s no way to prepare and it’s going to hurt and not stop, but we can cope and we can recall things that make us laugh. We deal with it a little better with time, but that’s it. I’d like to go back and cure him and I’d like to take that cancer away from your Dad, but I can’t. All I can tell you is the truth and remind you that you have a friend in me who understands.

    My love to you and your Dad.

    Steve

    Like

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