The short and simple version of this story is: Cancer sucks, having a dead parent sucks, and you cant really change it, which sucks. This is probably controversial in places, but I could really care less it’s my story, my blog, my actual life. As all of you probably know, my dad died when I was 16. Now, I’m not sure how many of you know this, but today marks three years since his diagnosis with stage four brain cancer, a glioblastoma multiforme brain tumor, to be exact. I know in my last post I talked about how much I love the month of October, but I didn’t mention that October is one of the hardest months for me to live through. October is the home to my dad’s diagnosis day as well as his birthday, and of course Halloween, his favorite holiday. To be honest, I am still trying to answer the simple question of why.
Having a dead parent is something I never imagined. I never thought cancer would hit so close to home. I never pictured the day that I would get a phone call that made me go numb like you see on TV. None of these are things that anyone pictures. You really never picture it happening to your dad, the one guy who is supposed to always be there and never let you down. It’s hard when you get this phone call, and you suddenly go from having two healthy parents, to one parent who could die at any moment. Not to say that you can’t already die at any moment, but an unexpected death is a lot different than one that is unfortunately expected.
People always say that some moments just freeze time completely, and they can feel the world stop turning. I always imagined when I felt this it would be on my wedding day, or high school graduation, or some other big happy event. Never in a million years did I think my best friend would get a call from my mom while we were in the middle of Target. I remember that I was so confused and I had no idea what was going on. Calli and I went home, and I got a call from my mom. I remember so clearly her telling me that my daddy had cancer, and it was bad. I remember falling to the floor in Calli’s bedroom, and just staring into space. Time was frozen. Calli just sat there and held me for what felt like 200 years, then took me to get Dairy Queen. Everything felt different. I was so numb and I just didn’t know what to say or do.
The next day at school I just sat in classes and went through all the motions. I remember at one point I just couldn’t handle it anymore and my brain just kind of broke. I went and sat in Callis car and cried. Then I went to the office and cried to Mr. Beattie then I went into Ms. Knowlton’s classroom and cried some more. For those of you who know me, I am not a crier. I don’t like to talk about my feelings and I don’t like to be emotional, and this day I was all of the above. I remember that most of junior year was spent with Mr. Beattie, because it was too hard for me to go to school sometimes. I remember how I would be having a great day, and out of nowhere I would have a massive panic attack. My emotions were so uncontrollable that I felt like I was in a completely different body, living a different life.
Having a sick parent is already extremely difficult to deal with. What is even more difficult to deal with is everybody staring at you with sad puppy eyes. I hate when people pity me, and I don’t really like when people get all emotional with me. For the next, well it hasn’t really ended, people were doing both of these things. What is really awful is when everyone tries to help by telling you obscure treatments, or by patting you on the shoulder when you do something so simple as take a breath. It is also really awful that I find people trying to help and be nice so awful, but imagine that you are suffocating, and someone hits you in the throat. Now you’re suffocating even more.
I get reminded of my dad being dead at the worst times. In class we had to google ourselves and share the first 5 things that appeared with the class. Well, classmates, here is my dad’s Go Fund Me page, here is my dad’s Obituary, and here is the latest on Ashley Tisdale. Talk about awkward. Most people had things similar to the third, some celebrity with the same name as them, some people had old Myspace photos. I had my dead dad. Thanks, Google.
I don’t really talk about having a dead parent a lot, it isn’t the ideal ice breaker, or just something I find fun to talk about in general. It makes me really uncomfortable to be honest. It makes me sad and it usually makes me cry. When people ask questions I am usually just really blunt about it, because how else am I supposed to react? By falling into their arms bawling about October of 2014, or March of 2015, or any months in between or following?
Something else I don’t talk about a lot is just my dad in general. Talking about him makes things seem a lot more real. It makes me realize that he is actually gone, and nothing I can do could fix this. My dad means a lot to me. He is the reason I love politics so much, and he is the reason I love Disneyland enough to have the coordinates tattooed onto my body forever. A lot of times you read these awful stories about people being terrible parents, but sadly its guys being terrible dads you hear about the most. I am so lucky that dad was an amazing dad. It is really hard for me to understand why such a good person gets ripped out of this terrible world.
Part of me sometimes wonders if my dad was taken when he was because the world knew he wouldn’t keep his cool with the current state of American politics, or global for that matter. My dad raised me to be a very political person. I know some people reading this will probably be offended by this, but let me just say I am offended by you taking such offense to a story that shaped me and a story that is about my dead dad. One of my clearest childhood memories with my dad was sitting in the garage one night, painting signs that said Impeach Bush on them. I remember my dad talking about how terrible he was, and how he was just not only a bad leader, but a bad person. I also remember the night that Barack Obama was elected into office. I got to stay up late and we sat and watched all the polls come in. In the sixth grade I remember him helping me write a letter to Governor Christine Gregoire about all the energy that was wasted leaving so many lights on in state buildings. I remember learning that one person can make a difference. I’m a political science major because my dad showed me how important politics were, and how sometimes the underdog can make the world a better place.
Having a dead parent feels like being guilty for being happy. Sometimes, I feel like I shouldn’t be so happy. I feel like sometimes it is wrong for me to forget to be upset about my dad being dead. I also know how wrong that is. My dad would have wanted me to be happy. My dad hated when I was sad, in fact he let me paint my bedroom pink because I told him beige was a sad color. Sometimes I will have such a fun day, that I don’t think about my dad. I feel so guilty, but why? When he was alive I could have a fun day and not think about him no problem. Why is it that because he is gone, for some reason I can’t be happy? This also applies to people who think I don’t feel grief, or that I’m over it, how could I get over it? Please share. How are there people who are just so bitter in their own lives that they feel the need to make sure I am still miserable to?
Having a dead parent means crying in the shower. I know I said earlier I don’t like to cry, and I really avoid it at all costs. Sometimes though when I’m in the middle of the chorus of Breaking Free mid shampoo, I just start crying. Sometimes when I am sad I will just take a shower at two in the afternoon because nobody can see or hear me crying in the shower. I can’t feel the tears running down my face if my face is already wet. Nobody will bother me in the shower.
Having a dead parent means that on my wedding day my dad won’t be there like I got to be on his. It also means he wasn’t there on my 18th birthday, or my high school graduation. He wasn’t there for prom, and he won’t be there if I ever have kids. This knowledge makes these things a little harder. It’s also really hard because I just want these things to be about me me, not my dead parent, but they always will circle around to it.
Some days when I see a picture of him, or I have a memory of him, I get this AWFUL feeling of realizing all over again that my dad is dead. I go through the same emotions that I did on October 2nd, 2014, and again on March 22, 2015. I ask myself how is this my life? How is this real? How is it that my dad will never take me to Disneyland again, or the beach. How is it that spontaneous family getaways are never going to be the same because my dad isn’t there? How is it that I will never get to argue with him, or talk to him again? Why is it that the person who fueled one of my greatest passions isn’t around to see it? Or debate it?
I’m not even going to apologize for writing this, because let’s be real, they have never apologized for making me live it. When my dad died, I didn’t only lose my dad, I lost his entire family. Later I realized only one of those was a bad thing. They wanted the whole funeral, his whole death to be about them. They are selfish. At the funeral, one family member in particular decided to make it about her entirely by recreating the lion king with her babies. Before he died, they talked about a cousin sleepover, with ten of the thirteen cousins, the three missing were my brothers and I.How selfish can you be that you can still seem to exclude these kids who are LOSING THEIR FATHER TO CANCER.I personally never felt welcome in the family, probably just because I was awkwardly too young to hangout with the grown ups, but too old to play with the babies, but again probably not. Three years without these awful humans has been nice to be completely honest, I have learned a lot about the meaning of family. Blood doesn’t necessarily define it. One of my friends told me one time, “family doesn’t automatically make somebody entitled to unconditional love, its up to that individual to decide.” After he died, we didn’t hear from them. Well, when we did they were just collecting notes to report back to HQ with. If you are reading this, you know who you are and I just want to personally thank you for breaking the already broken heart of a sixteen year old girl.
Don’t even get me started on the lack of help from any of them. Instead of being adults and helping my mom when their brother, or son, or cousin, or nephew was slowly dying, they decided that they could just do whatever they wanted and pretend that they helped. No, I’m sorry but that is not okay. Instead of adults helping it was me. I got to take care of my dad while he had cancer. I got to miss out on high school experiences because I knew my mom shouldn’t have to be taking care of her sick husband alone. At the age of 16 I was able to comprehend that. Also, I am just going to note, that they still sometimes pretend to be our family by sending weird messages about how much we have grown and how proud they are. What a joke, maybe I should start a humor section.
I guess that leads me into the next topic. Anger. I find myself really angry a lot. All the time actually. Since my dad died I feel like I have no patience anymore. I don’t know if because I realize now how little time we have on this planet, and I don’t want to waste mine sitting in traffic or what. I know my dad would be angry at how some things are looking. I know he would be so mad about the government, his family, the way people treat climate change. So maybe he is just somewhere continuously trying to piss me off by throwing all these issues into my radar, who knows. In particular it makes me really angry when people say “well your dad would have wanted…blah blah blah.” Only the people who knew my dad are allowed to say that to me, and even then it still sort of makes me mad. Don’t use my dead dad to work on your own personal agenda.
That’s the other thing. When people ask why I am so “okay” with my dad being dead. I just say Well I’m not okay with it, but I have to live with it. There isn’t anything I can do, so I shouldn’t waste my time on Earth being sad, bitter, and miserable. This doesn’t mean that I am not still super pissed off at the universe. I just use my anger to fuel my passions and to better the world.
Having a dead parent isn’t the end of the world, even though it may feel like it. It also doesn’t define me as a person, even though it did shape me into the person I have become over the last three years.