I try not to remember what happened Christmas Eve 2003. I tried my best over the years to not let it be the anniversary of my final conversation with my Daddy. I attempted for years to be all that symbolizes this holiday season for the sake of my children and grandchildren.
It wld be the final time my Daddy would be intubated and his final intelligible conversation that resulted in his last wishes for the doctor to override our feelings and he declined to be intubated. I recall he said, “Please do not put that tube down my throat, it was horrible, I wasn’t at peace.” I ran into the bathroom to hid my pain, my broken heart, my tears, but he was my Daddy and there was no hiding from him. He sent my auntie to retrieve me from my hiding space and he sat on the bed with his arms extended to embrace me. I felt like that little baby girl he would claim was on the floor the night I was allowed to stay with him in the ICU due to a nursing shortage, he needed supervision and I thought I was qualified to be my Daddy’s nurse…Wrong wrong wrong, I regret staying.
I would spend the night watching in agony and a tiny bit of happiness as my Daddy pulled the breathing tube from him lungs and mouth, pulling off his hospital gown off along with every tube and cord from his body as he stood with his huge 6ft4in frame, delirious from the morphine and his brain being eaten away by the cancer. He was shouting at the male nurse to get his baby off the floor. I was that baby, but I was a 29yr old young mother of two and I was laying on the lounging chair with a flood of tears that made their release thru my eyes. What prevented me from all out losing it was that he somehow willed himself from his induced como to talk, get out the bed, walk and for a couple hours I had my Daddy back.
Within those hours I decided to not believe the doctors who said he had maybe a few weeks left. I was on the phone with evey organization in the world, but the moment I told them he had stage 4 lung cancer that spread to his bones and brain, the staff I spoke to over the phone informed me that I needed to accept his doctor’s prognosis. Looking back, I was an educated nursing professional who was very much in denial, but this was my life, not my patient. It was my Daddy, my family on the end of medical chart, which I read and did not accept that my Daddy was at the end of his life.
When I went over to him after my hide and seek episode, he wiped my tears and grabbed my cheeks, turning my face to look out the window and he said, “Deatra, the sun will always shine, it shines even when its dark or raining and it will shine when I’m gone and you will be ok, because the sun will always shine.” He was intubated a couple hours later, I spent Christmas with him at the hospital, someone brought me some food that I picked over, but I was happy just to be with him. It may have been selfish, but it was just me and my Daddy and I believe his last words to me and spending one on one time with him after that horrible night in the ICU, helped me heal and move pass seeing him like that. What daughter, child no matter the age wants to see their parents undressed, discombobulated, angry and sick on their death bed, I experienced all of that and more in a minutes on Christmas Eve. As you can imagine it took me years to grieve, but today I can write and speak about how I made it to be able to not only celebrate with my family and friends, but I can finally share my last moments with my Daddy without busting out in tears.
I no longer run and hid during the Christmas season, because of the timing of my Daddy’s death. I know he would want me to celebrate with my family and friends and be happy. I am and the sun is shining and my Daddy lives in my heart.