My life felt like a Country Song today. I got an awful call from my parents that my dad has been diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer.
Nothing sucks the breath out of your lungs quite like that.
You always know, intuitively, that as you get older and have a family, inevitably your parents age as well. And..no, no one can live forever...but this kind of news is never, ever expected.
I was stunned. I had a million questions all at once, but some I was afraid to ask. How do you ask your dad what his prognosis for recovery is or how long the doctors "give" him?
I know next to nothing about Esophageal Cancer except that cancer is a vicious, unrelenting, hateful, undiscriminating beast. Its ugliness has filled my life enough. It seems every day I am hearing tragedies about families diagnosed with or losing battles with cancer.
My parents were both so strong and upbeat on the phone. They were trying hard not to scare me and I knew it. And all I can think of now, in remembering how calm and wonderful they were, is how often I have belittled them and begrudged them the privilege of being considered good parents.
Or even good enough.
I have long been an ungrateful and thankless child and it totally sucks that it takes something like this to wake me up.
I can't even recount all the times my dad was there for me.
As a kid, I have such fond memories of him playing outside with me, helping me with school projects, training me for my elementary school's "olympics," watching TV together--just the two of us--singing in the kitchen (some made-up rendition of "On Top Of Spaghetti"), hearing his [loud] laugh, his monkey strength, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that he could beat up anybody in the world and would protect me at any cost.
I saw my dad as most little girls see their dads...he was my hero. He was the smartest person I knew and he could do anything.
Looking back as an adult, I know now how much my parents sacrificed for us. I know the heartache they felt with every ungrateful word I said and every time I acted embarrassed of them. I now understand how they loved my sisters and I and tried to provide us with a better life.
And I still see my dad as that same guy I used to have to crane my neck back to see...that 5'5 giant. :)
The guy who used to take us sled riding and make dinner, and wrestle with us.
He's my hero; He's the smartest person I know and he can do anything.
Including beat this diagnosis.
I love you, Dad!