My stepdad passed away the other day.
Three weeks ago, he went to the doctor for back pain that wouldn’t subside.
Turned out to be pancreatic cancer; tumors from his pancreas pushing into his spinal cord.
The doctor told him he had at least 3 months.
The cancer was in his bones but not his other organs.
Radiation treatment began, chemo to shortly follow.
He was admitted to hospital the other night with shortness of breath and confusion.
His blood levels were very low oxygen due to the cancer being inside his bone marrow.
He kept saying to my mom “Let’s get through this so I can get my treatment,”
“This won’t impact my treatment, right?”
He became scared, confused and agitated.
Then he passed out.
They tried reviving him for 45 minutes.
He was 48.
They think he may have had a blood clot that caused the rapid decline in health.
My mom didn’t opt for an autopsy so we won’t really know for certain.
My birth father passed away in 2008 from liver disease.
He was ill for 15 years so was slow and gradual in comparison to this but no easier, obviously.
He was my hero.
I am still broken in places due to his passing.
This is my first real experience with a more sudden death.
I have a lot of complicated feelings right now.
Some of which I feel incredibly selfish for like “Why am I not allowed to have a father figure in my life?”
Others, less selfish like “Why isn’t my mom allowed to be happy?”
“Why did he have to leave scared and confused?”
“Why did he even have to leave?”
When my birth father passed, I developed this permanent heavy weight from death’s hands resting on my shoulder, whispering the Virgil’s quote:
“Death twitches my ear;
‘Live,’ he says…
I live with an intense urgency of life.
Multiple times a day I ask myself if I’m happy with what I’m doing,
if I should be doing more,
if I’m okay with my current life,
if I should change things,
if I should move back home,
if I should change careers,
Life is a funny thing.
I’m a firm believer that we are all on our own paths that are meant to teach and we are to learn accordingly.
But I am struggling to understand what all this death is trying to teach me.
I mean, I know it has taught me humility and deep empathy for the human journey.
It has taught me patience and spiritual compassion that we’re all hurting inside from something; that we’re all working on something (even if many don’t realize it) so to be kind even if people are not kind back (something I think I will forever be working on).
I thought I learned all I could the first time around.
But I guess I was wrong.
And, really, it’s not even about me.
Grief is a deeply personal experience so I cannot speak for others.
I just know that I want them back.
Please, come back.