Just got done visiting Dad’s gravesite…again.  Mark and the kids and I went up yesterday too.  We’ve had such a lot of rain (excess of 6 inches this past few days) that I worried the dirt would be swept away or sunken in.  Everything was as should be though.  A little yucca plant is growing behing Dad’s stone.  I think we’ll let it go there.  See if it grows.  I remember sticking a little green seed pod there quite some time ago.  I wonder if he would be mad.  Anyway, Mom and I got everything decorated and we went to Arapahoe and Holbrook and decorated graves there too.  The weather was hot but nice.  I can’t believe it’s been almost a year.  I know I keep saying that but it’s true.  The whole last year Dad was sick seems like a dream…another world entirely.  I think I’ve changed a lot since then.  I’m someone new…someone I don’t really know.  I can’t explain it and I don’t know if it’s even relative to what happened when Dad was sick.  I just know it’s true.

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Last year at this time we were all waiting.

For the shoe to drop.  The final shoe.  Dad was so sick.  He was in the final throes.  Everyday another slipping away of something.  The body betrays you, the mind.  The importance of “things” becomes ridiculous in proportion to the importance of moments.

snapshot:  Dad, in a wheelchair in the cool early morning air, a coffee cup beside him, a cigarette in his mouth.  He liked to listen to the birds, enjoy a coffee and smoke in the morning.

snapshot:  Dad sitting in my little orange bug as we went for a ride through town, to our house, where he gazed at the gaily decorated driveway where we were holding my daughters graduation party.  He would spend the night at home, with my Uncle “babysitting” so my Mom could attend the graduation and a few minutes of the reception.

snapshot:  Mark carrying Dad and placing him into our vehicle so we could take him to the hospital for a “treatment”.

snapshot:  Dad, gone, quiet, still in the hospital bed, my mothers face, stricken, Dad is gone

I had a dream the other night that Dad was alive and very sick with his lung cancer. It was very sad when I woke up. It felt so real. Last year at this time I remember I was starting to get ready for Katie’s graduation and wondering if Dad would be alive for it. I remember thinking how I was going to have a funeral and a graduation close together. It was such a difficult time. I can’t believe it’s almost been a whole year. In someways it feels like a few weeks ago. I have to try and not remember the last 12 hours of his life because it is very painful to me. The disbelief of his final breath. The casual visiting of our family in his room that morning. too many too many sad things…

Mom and I went to decorate Dad’s grave today. Put up spring flowers and took down the roses that mom called “winter”. The wind was blowing so fiercely we wonder if the flowers will stay put in the vase. Mom stuffed them with some paper and we will hope for the best. We drove around then and looked at all the graves. I actually like our cematary. It’s quite old with some really neat old tombstones.
Dad is gone now almost 9 months. I remember the awfulness of it all in waves. There was good too. Lots of good. I never spent so much time with Dad until the last two years of his life. I’m glad we were able to keep Dad at home. It was hard, but why must everything be easy.

Been missing Dad lately. We found a bunch of old pictures the other day. Pics of Mom and Dads wedding, Dad at the grocery store sale, Moms brothers and sisters and Mother in the front lawn of grandmas house. Brought back a flood of memories. Sometimes it’s just easier to get through he days by being superficial.

It’s a sad day really. I think of Dad, gone for 7 months now and I can’t believe it. Again, it seems like a different world, a different time, place. I cried last night and felt sad. Mark’s dad died of lung cancer too. Mark was only 19 and I never got to meet his dad. I worry about my children. Will they be “prone” to lung cancer? Alec has already had a “cyst” removed twice from his lower leg at the growth plate, what does that mean for him? Katie, my oldest, is smoking. I am sick about it. So sick. So very very sick. I don’t know what to do. She is almost 19, in college. She has to be responsible for her own actions. She is not a stupid girl. I have talked and talked and talked about lung cancer and smoking forever. She saw her grandpa shrink slowly every day and die of lung cancer. She smokes. god it hurts to think of it.,,

Thanksgiving gone and already Christmas in few days. Time is flying by. I have been re-reading a book that is about a woman who takes care of her dad who is dying of lung cancer. I hate it, yet I read it. Sounds true to me. Hard to take and hard to put down. In some ways it feels good to know that other people have gone through the same experiences as you have. Some comfort in that. A week ago or so, Mom made a Christmas tree for Dad’s grave and we took it to the cemetery. It fits right over the vase. We also took a greenery type deer and put him there too. It’s so hard to believe that Dad is dead. I have been trying to block out thoughts of his sickness because it is hard to think of him like that now. It makes me feel so very very sad. In fact I can’t really write anymore now.

I keep thinking about Dad and when he died. The hospital room that day, the way he “talked” with his eyes until the very end. I keep remembering the last breath he took. I can’t help it and I hate to think of it and I wish I could think of other things. Better things.
Not long after Dad died Mark and I thought we would go fishing at the creek. I went into Mom and Dads garage to get Dad’s tackle box. I picked it up, opened it up and my mouth dropped open. Inside were a jillion cigarette butts. Neatly packed on top of his lures. In fact it looked like they belonged there. Obviously he hadn’t quit smoking. I guess I knew that…deep inside I knew it. I shook my head and Mark and Mom stood there with their mouths dropped open. I felt such a…dismay…it seems like I was always telling my Dad not to smoke when I was a little girl. I hated the smell…although sometimes now I like the slight whiff of a cigarette burning… I don’t smoke…can’t stand it…I remember thinking…I wonder when he will die of cancer back when I was little.
terrible thoughts
Mom and I picked out a headstone. There is a fishing scene on the back. The only thing it needs is a cigarette and the picture would look like him.
Wish I could sleep

Everytime I mow out at Mom and Dads house (weekly) I feel sad. I begin to think of Dad’s last breathe, me saying, “Mom, he’s going!”, how he gasped twice and then…nothing. I remember how I lowered the head of his bed once minute before then, saying, “Just for a second Dad” and then another nurse and I pulled him up so that his feet weren’t pressed against the foot of the bed. It was then, that he died. Right after we did that. Right after that. Right after that. I see his open mouth, like a baby bird. I see his sunken eyes. I hear that silence. The absence of breath. I see it over and over and over and over and over. I cannot say that this is why he died. I know that. But it feels like it was the reason sometimes.
Everyhing feels so strange about the cancer time. Not like a dream but…something not quite lucid just the same. Like a fog covered the last 2 years. Like a mist that descended and made everything seem close and thick and difficult and all our own world somehow. Like a deserted island. It’s hard to explain.
Mom is doing okay. She sleeps at our house quite often. The empty couch in her living room, too much to bear. The silence of an empty home at night is much different than a quit afternoon.

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I felt sad today. I kept wanting to call Dad up and tell him something I’d heard or something I saw or I wanted to ask him a question about something. I went up to the cemetery this evening and stared around at the grave. We haven’t picked a headstone out although we’ve talked about it. There is a service “pin” thing there and our flowers from the funeral are still laying across the grave but I really am ready to have a headstone up. I want to be able to tend it.