My dad passed away in the hospital five years ago this morning around 4:43am in NYC.
Although the years have passed by quickly, it still feels like yesterday to me. We had been keeping vigil, spending all nighters at the hospital for about a week. From diagnosis to death, it was the saddest six weeks of my life.
Just a few days before he passed, he had a day of unusual liveliness, talking about good times and how he was hungry for his favorite dishes. The next day his condition took a turn for the worst and he seemingly slipped into a deep sleep from which he never woke from. It really does happen as people say…they get a second wind right before they pass away.
His passing from terminal lung cancer taught me a very hard life lesson because it was the very first death of someone so close. I mean, I’ve had relatives, grandparents, uncles, aunts who passed away before, but their deaths seemed distant. It didn’t hit me the way dad’s death did.
It made me see my own mortality in a completely different light. In a positive way, it helped me to make healthier lifestyle changes. I quit smoking, I ate healthier. But in a negative way, I’ve been secretly obsessed with the thought of dying. It’s better now with the passage of time, but at one point, it was almost as if I was not living because I was always obsessed and worried about every little thing regarding my health.
I worked with the geriatric population on a daily basis for years. Seeing their quality of life in their golden years and seeing how my dad died makes me think that there’s not a lot of hope in getting older. If you live long enough, you’re probably going to come down with something and the thought of that is locked in my mind and to be honest with you, it scares me.
When you see someone close to you dying of cancer, it’s one of the most difficult things to witness because you just see the life going out of them. They get frail, they get weak, they get to the point where they can’t do anything for themselves. I used to think cancer was something “somebody else” got until cancer came to our home.
I’ve often heard older and otherwise healthy people tell me “If the time comes, I’m ready.” After seeing my dad die, I’m not sure these people really know the true meaning of what they’re saying. It’s easy to say that when you’re feeling ok, but when your body is dying and you know it, hmm, that’s a tough one.
All I know is that even though dad was 78, (which is the average lifespan of a male in the USA) he did not want to die. He often expressed how he did not want to sign the DNR (do no resuscitate) clause. He wanted to live. I’m not even sure he knew how bad his cancer was. That was such a sad thing to witness.
We all know that no one lives forever and everyone will die someday. I only wonder, when that time comes and you know it, how will you really feel? Will there be a sense of relief that your pain will come to an end? Or will there be a deep fear of death and leaving this world and your loved ones?
My dad was a good man who loved his family more than anything else. Today, I’m just taking this moment to remember him. Sorry for the long discussion, there’s more to life than cameras 🙂
Rest in Peace my Papa. We love you and we still think of you ever day. Thanks for everything you gave to us.
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