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So be it

Our last gin and tonic together. Cheers, Dad.

Dad has had a rough couple of days. No one really knows the cause, but my feeling is that after a week and a half being so "up" for my brother's visit, the anticipation of Teagan's and my visit, and the visit itself that when it was all over, his brain kind of threw in the towel. I mean, let's face it: Even if they're the people you love most in the world, visitors can take a lot out of you, whether you're dying of cancer and kidney failure or not.

So I was saddened but not surprised to receive an email from Mom yesterday afternoon saying Dad had had a difficult night--so much so that he has once again been given a minder to stay in his room with him at night. It seems he tried to get out of bed several times, thought he was in the Phoenix suburbs (NO idea where that came from), and kept talking about gin and tonics (that one actually made me smile--our last one together is pictured here).

The nurses called Mom first thing in the morning to ask her to call him, which she did, at which point he asked her to come get him. He wanted to know if Mom knew where he was, and when she said Davis Hospice, he said that wasn't right.

Mom went much earlier than usual to see him, and he was (as usual) better once she got there. But he slept more than he ever had before, tried to take his hospital gown off several times, and at one point attempted to get out of bed to get a shower.

While I was there last weekend, Mom and I got to talking about his increasing confusion and sadness. I told her my biggest concern is that his demise won't be the quiet, fairly easy one we were expecting (he used the words "fade away" when he first got into hospice, and I have heard from several people that renal failure isn't a bad way to go). Mom reminded me that the entire point of hospice care is to do whatever it takes to make the patient comfortable--and although they are definitely fulfilling that promise for him physically, I just don't know how much they can do for his mental/emotional suffering.

For example, a couple of weeks ago he forgot he had leukemia. He FORGOT. And when the nurse told him again, he cried harder than my Mom has ever seen him cry. I can't STAND the thought of him suffering like that, but I just don't know what can be done about it.

Which leads me to make the wish that makes me feel like the worst daughter in the world: I hope it happens soon. God help me, I'm actually wishing for my own father's death. And trust me when I say that, when it actually happens, I'll look back on these wishes and despair of ever having made them--of ever having wished for a world without my father in it. But I would rather live in that world than in a world where that same father is suffering and scared and confused. I will gladly trade my happiness for his relief, and if his death is the only way he can get it, be it.

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