Wow. I am SO sorry I left y’all with such a cliffhanger and then disappeared for a few weeks (& thank you to everyone who has reached out to check on me. It really means so much). Life has been an absolute whirlwind since my last update…
A short version of a very long and hard to give update: Dad is now at the end of his cancer journey. A few weeks ago we brought him home from the hospital with the care of my amazingly strong mom and hospice. The chemo treatments were no longer effective and it had become clear that his quality of life was going to continue to suffer a great deal if he continued to put himself through the rigors of chemo that ultimately had very little chance of prolonging his life. Dad was experiencing a ton of pain, discomfort and unfortunate
side effects. So our focus has now shifted from managing treatment protocols to managing quality-of-life for as long as the Lord will let us keep him on this side of heaven.
But damn, it’s been hard. Really hard. Coming to grips with the reality and consequences of discontinuing chemo is still taking me time to absorb. It’s especially hard being 9 hours away instead of by his bedside 24/7. Almost every single night I lay awake terrified that tomorrow will be his last day…and I’m not there. We recently spent about 10 days at home with him but ultimately had to return to Charlotte to catch up on work, run our household and tend to our very sick dog who is also dying of cancer.
So the question I get most of all — how am I doing? Honestly? Really f*cking terrible the first few weeks after returning home (which explains my blog absence and hibernation from life). Now I have good days and bad. Some days I can keep my thoughts distracted and power through. And other
days I feel like my insides have completely evaporated and I’m just this fragile shell
of a human trying to make it through lunchtime without a panic attack, an ugly meltdown or getting physically ill. It feels nearly impossible to do normal things at times like write a grocery list, run a meeting, make dinner, go out for date night, fold laundry, drink wine with my best girlfriends, blog about mascara, etc. without internally wanting to scream and cry. I constantly feel guilty living my life when I know my dad’s life is being cut too short — he isn’t even 60 years old. But I push through with smiles and accept hugs because I know dad wants me to.
Because we don’t know how much time we have, Dad has held me tight and said goodbye to me every single day that I’ve spent with him. With each conversation he emphasizes that his last wishes are that he be celebrated and not grieved. And because we can rest knowing that Dad’s destiny is sealed in heaven we have agreed to fulfill his wishes, to the end, whenever it comes. I’m completely confident that God in his infinite wisdom and perfect love is lovingly administering his grace to us, even as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. So with smiles, prayers for strength and lots and lots and lots and lots of booze, our family has rallied together to make the most of our time, which brings me to a few pictures I will forever cherish from our last two trips home…
My absolute favorite day was the day we took dad to the beach — against hospice orders and totally worth it. We decided to visit New Smyrna Beach so we could drive along the beach and pull up right next to the ocean. Most of you already know this, but Dad is an incredibly talented surfer so the ocean brings him instant happiness and watching all his grandbabies roll in the sand and jump in the waves was exactly what he needed. We had anticipated only staying for a few minutes but dad surprised us all and made it a few hours.
It was also during this trip that Matt failed to use sunscreen and suffered the worst back sunburn I’ve ever seen and I also had my wheelchair pushing privileges revoked when I got brave and tried to push dad closer to the ocean and got him stuck in the sand. Oops.
Another day we visited the Orlando Sea Aquarium. The kids had an absolute blast. Their faces lit up with so much excitement as we saw sharks, sea turtles, sting rays, jelly fish and an octopus!
We also spent a lot of time at home so dad could rest when the kids would wear him out. And the kiddos saw every opportunity to jump into bed with him for Disney movie marathons…
And lots and lots of outside fun…
On Saturday we of course had our Sandroni Saturday Steak Night. Dad has been training Ian up on his secret recipe and grilling techniques.
After the kids went to bed, Dad pulled out his finest scotch and we played rounds and rounds of 31 while pretending that it isn’t weird that there’s a hospital bed in the middle of our living room.
On Sunday we rolled Dad up to church.
Lots of memories have been made during our time at home and we are anxiously counting down until our next trip to Florida.