Guest writer: Carl's Facebook post
Hello, friends. I am posting this for those of you who may know my dad, Eric Wedell, but have not seen my sister Allison's posts about his situation. My posts will not match the quantity or eloquence of hers, so feel free to click over to her feed.
I will say it simply: my dad is dying. He is in hospice in Cheyenne, WY, with AML (acute myeloid leukemia) and the kidney failure it has caused.
AML is a cancer that comes on very quickly. It was only a couple months ago, in July, that he was riding in the Tour de Wyoming, and attending Heather's and my wedding. In August he and Mom took a trip to England. They had just finished that up and were about to start a Scotland trip when, on the 19th, he had to be hospitalized. Fortunately this happened in central London, so he was taken to Guy's and St. Thomas' hospital, where he received excellent care. Through the generosity of a family friend my sister and I were able to fly over to be with him and my mom for a week; my aunt and a very good friend and former partner of Dad's joined us, too. We were able to stay long enough to see him through an initial, very difficult period. After another two-and-a-half weeks he was well enough to fly home via air ambulance. It was less than a week ago that he arrived at the hospital in Cheyenne.
At this point, we were all very hopeful. However, it quickly became clear that even if they got the AML into remission fully, his kidneys would never recover.
My dad then made a decision that, on an intellectual level, I understand and, indeed, respect, but that on an emotional level is profoundly difficult to deal with. Faced with an extremely depressingly frustrating future of chemotherapy and daily dialysis, and of a severe reduction in his quality of life, my dad has decided to go out on his own terms. This past Saturday we had a video call with him and Mom, in which he explained his decision to enter hospice. My sister and I flew to Cheyenne the next day.
So here we are. I will say that I'm doing better than I expected. In hospice he gets to eat what he wants, and it is more spacious, comfortable, and home-like than even the nicest hospital room. He is not miserable; he is mostly comfortable. My mother, sister, aunt, and I can just hang out with him all day. We read wonderful cards and emails out loud, have him tell various stories, and watch a little football. We get to sit beside him and hold his hand. We get to look at wedding pictures (yay!). He has had a *ton* of visitors, so I've seen people I haven't seen in ages and have witnessed how respected and loved he is. It has really helped to hear his fellow physicians and church friends all, without fail, support and affirm his decision. Monday evening the Cheyenne Chamber Singers, with whom he sang for many years, came and sang two glorious pieces.
Dad does not have a lot of time left. On Sunday he estimated he had a week to ten days. The part of my mind that is still actively in denial has conveniently rounded that up to two weeks, but really, we just don't know. So for those of you who are just learning about this and would like to visit him or send your thoughts and feelings, I hope you can accept my apologies for not posting something sooner. Please, please feel free to get in touch if you so desire; it would be great to hear from you. Message me on Facebook if you don't have my contact information.
Thank you, everybody. It is a tough time, but I'll end this post with something I'm beginning to learn. I am learning this with the help of Dad's courage, Allison's eloquence, my Auntie Barbara's love, and Mom's fortitude, tenderness, and deep love for her husband. I am learning this with the help of all the wonderful people who are visiting and sending genuine love to Dad. I am learning that death can, in part, be a good thing, because it is part of what makes life all the more meaningful. Love to all, and love to you, Dad.
Editor's note: As you can see, my brother is not as eloquent as I am. EXCEPT WHEN HE IS. Like now, for example. I love him.