• Mariah

We Endure: Missing You

“Hey SiBug! Just checking in to see how you are doing today.”...

“Hey dad, I was walking off campus to class and I did not feel safe so I called you.”...

April 14, 2016, was the day that I lost my security and the one person who made me feel safe, by just talking to him.

My dad was my person in the family. We were always so close, we had the same sense of humor, liked the same hobbies, and always messed with each other. He understood me and I understood him. My favorite memories together were him coaching my soccer team, taking a cake decorating class, cooking together, and going on lunch dates.

My dad was always there for me: from my first heartbreak to when I had to have knee surgery to my prom and my high school graduation. I always thought my dad was Superman, that he would beat any obstacle that came his way. He was Uno he could do anything. Until he couldn’t...

My dad had a chronic cough that would not go away. One day, he felt like God told him to go to the doctor to get it looked at. The X-ray came back and there was a mass on his lung. On March 16th, 2015, my 18th birthday, the results of the biopsy of the mass came back. Two of the cells tested positive for Non-small Cell Carcinoma. My dad had lung cancer.

His options were aggressive chemo and radiation or lung surgery to remove the lung. He wanted to do the surgery. We had to wait about a month for the insurance to approve the surgery. By the time they finally opened him up, the cancer had spread into his lymph nodes. The surgeon could no longer continue with the surgery and had to close him up. During his surgery, I had my last AP test, I cried through the whole thing. I was so angry that my dad made me go when everyone else was waiting at the hospital. It wasn’t until I got to the hospital that I got the news.

Where do we go from here? What is going to happen? Does he know yet? This was my dad! He was my rock, nothing bad could ever happen to him because HE WAS SUPERMAN. I did not want to believe my reality.

My High School Graduation was a few weeks later. We were not sure if he would able to come. He was still recovering from a major surgery and was getting ready to start treatment.

My dad tried to make it seem like everything was normal. He was excited to get his face masks to protect him from getting sick. He cracked jokes about them as if wearing face masks was an everyday thing: one was fishing poles and bait-- for relaxing, the other camo-- for fighting the germs of the world, and the cross mask-- for church. It would make us forget about our reality for a short period of time.

That summer, I helped be my dad’s caretaker, so that my mom could continue to work. I took him to most of his radiation appointments. I was his personal driver, since he could not drive himself anymore. When the chemo and radiation tore up his esophagus and he could barely eat, we would go to 7-11 to get Coke slurpees, because that was the only thing he could swallow.

It got so bad that my dad had to have a G tube put in. I made sure to give him his formula and make sure the machine was not giving it to him to fast. We got really close that summer, we talked when he felt like talking, even though it was hard for him because of his throat. Most of our time was spent watching Big Bang Theory on the coach together.

Some of my friends did not understand why I couldn’t hang out much that summer. They had never had to take care of a parent before. Not only was I helping my mom but I wanted to be there for my dad. I did not mind giving up time to hang with my friends, because I got that quality time with my dad.

In the fall of 2015, my dad was doing a little better but still weak and I moved onto campus to start my Freshmen Year of college. He had finished his cycle of treatment and his doctors were waiting to see if it helped minimize the cancer. He was still weak and I did not want to leave for school. I felt like I should be staying home, helping care for him. I was distracted in school, no matter how hard I concentrated, my mind was elsewhere.

December rolls around. My dad gives me a call, we had been waiting for his PET scan results to come in to see if the cancer had gone down. I held my breath as my dad told me he was cancer free. A huge weight was lifted off our shoulders. We could finally breathe, all of us. Things were finally getting back to normal. I started dating my now fiancé and we were all happy my dad was doing good, finally.

Until he wasn’t…

Mid-February 2016 comes around. Right after Valentine’s Day, my dad was rear ended; his car totaled. The doctors told my mom to watch for signs of a concussion. A few days later, my dad started showing signs of a concussion. Except it was not a concussion. It was three tumors on his brain. My mom was supposed to preach the next day, talking about our hardship and how God overcomes, she was going to end the story with my dad beating cancer. Instead, she ended it with telling the whole church that my dad’s cancer was back and that it has spread to his brain.

My 19th birthday, March 16, 2016 - My dad was meeting with his neurosurgeon to go over the surgery and what it would entail for him. With the help of some friends, my boyfriend, Johnathon, tried to cheer me up by taking me to San Diego. But all I could think about was my dad. My friends decided we should head home. I missed visiting hours that night and thought I could not see him. I had brought cupcakes and everything.

I was able to see him. Everyone in his room sang Happy Birthday to me with tears in our eyes. That would be the last time my dad sang Happy Birthday to me.

The next few weeks go by and he has his four brain surgerys. We spent many hours in the waiting room of the hospital. We had all gotten used to it, since it had been about 14 months of us being in and out of the hospital. We got into a routine. I brought my coloring book and sat there trying to keep my mind off the fact that my dad was having brain surgery for the first, second, third, and fourth time. Each time the doctor was unable do anything to remove the tumors. Each time, it was hard waking my dad up and telling him that there was nothing they could do.

In those few weeks, I missed a lot of school to be with my dad. He was still in the hospital recovering from the four surgeries. I would keep him company while my mom would go home to shower. She was practically living there too. He slept a lot, but it was okay I brought that same coloring book with me and would sit and color, just to be with him.

April rolls around. He was finally out of the hospital. Our friends had gifted our whole family a weekend at a beach house in Oceanside. All of the kids were coming and we were going to rest and relax as a family for the first time in a very long time.

My parents went down on Thursday and all the kids arrived on Friday. When we arrived, my dad was taken to the hospital. All of us kids would take turns visiting him. We were

not sure if he was going to make it through the night, so we wrote him notes and my mom read it to him. Monday came around and we all had to go home, my dad was doing better. He even was able to have In & Out and get wheeled to the hospital garden.

I had just emailed my professors and told them I was finally coming back to school to finish up my semester. I made the decision to drop two of my classes because I was so behind. That morning, I got a call from my mom was saying that my dad was having another procedure. And that we should come to Oceanside as soon as possible.

I am so sorry...

“I am so sorry but we found a tumor and blood clots on Ron’s lung. His lungs are dying. Soon, He will not be able to breath on his own. You guys have weeks, maybe days with him... If he stays on the breathing machine.”

What? That’s not possible! He was doing better on Monday! He had In & Out!!

My dad was Superman, how could this happen nothing could kill him… We spent the day with my dad trying to figure out a miracle. But, he told us that he had already surrendered his spirit to the Lord and was ready.

I was so angry with him! Why did he not want to fight! I tried to rationalize that if he would just try harder, that he would beat this. We all sat there with him, trying to be strong.

My sister and I washed my parents feet as a thank you for all they had done for us, just as Jesus washed the disciples feet. We all knew my dad’s time was coming to an end.

I was the first to walk up to my dad, while my mom was laying next to him in bed and said “goodbye daddy”. Then I leaned over and said “I know you’re hanging on because you want to walk me down the aisle. But it’s okay, because mama is going to do it. But, I want to have our father daughter dance.”

Then my mom got up and I laid down next to him and we played this song “My Little Girl” by Tim McGraw. I laid with him and cried, knowing that he would never walk me down the aisle and we would never have our father daughter dance.

We left the hospital that night and our friends David and Madi came to our hotel room. They brought us pizza and Madi played with my hair until I fell asleep. They will never know how much that meant to me, they knew what was going on and did not say anything but were just there for us. That night, I stayed up and prayed and I prayed for a miracle.

April 14, 2016, my dad took off his breathing machine and tried to get up. My dad had not walked on his own in over a month. It looked like he was going toward something. That morning, the doctor had told us if he does not keep the machine on he would only have hours left. Not days or weeks.

My dad seemed frustrated when we put the breathing machine back on. He made the decision again to take it off. We knew he wanted to go. I cried and hid in Jonathan's arms. The nurses got my dad medication to make him comfortable and to relieve the anxiety of dying. We all laid with him, crying while he took his last breath, it felt like hours.

That night, we drove home in shock. The following week, I went back to school and finished my freshman year of college. I barely passed my classes. But I did not care, my dad was gone.

Now we had to try to figure out how to live in our new reality. One where my dad was no longer in it. I was so angry with God, I wanted nothing to do with him. My mom and Johnathon, stood by and listen to me while I told them I wanted nothing to do with God. Even when I did not see it myself, God had stayed by me the whole time, even when I did not want him there. He gave me an amazing support group that listened to me and loved me in all my hurt and anger. That never left but helped be my stability through the early stages of grieving.

I am so thankful for Johnathon, my family, and my support group. I am no longer fighting God, He came to me and showed me His love and I can not begin to describe how thankful I am that He never left. I still grieve for my dad, nothing will ever be normal from now on, and I still get angry. But knowing God is always there to pick me up, and to have my support there is what gets me through the day. I try to do things to honor God and my dad. My dad was an amazing man of God, so generous and willing to help anyone in need.

Being in the hospital and getting to interact with my dad’s nurses and doctors, I developed a passion for medicine and helping those in need. I am almost done with school, I turned my grades around and now am graduating a semester early. I plan on applying to nursing programs after I graduate. I want to be a nurse, because of my dad, everything he went through and knowing the great nurses that cared for him. This experience has made me want to be a nurse and be the person that comforts a patient and their family through a very scary time.

These last two years have been really hard without my dad. This year will be especially difficult, because I am getting married. Having the reality that he will not be the one to walk me down the aisle is so unbelievably hard. Most days I do not even let myself go there and grieve.

Our Hero, our protector, our provider. Our Uno.
I wish I could say that it has been two years and I am all better.

No, I still struggle everyday. Some days I forget, and I try to call him before realizing that I can’t. It still does not feel normal, I do not think it ever will. But there is a new strength that is inside of me that helps me get through the day, God’s strength. And the support system He gave me.

If you are reading this and a loved one has lost a spouse, parent, child or close friend, I know it is hard. You may want to say something but do not know what to say. You want to ease their pain and comfort them. It is better to just be there for the person. Let them grieve, cry or get angry. Let them talk about their loved one, it is therapeutic for us I promise! And when we are ready to talk about them we will, but please do not change the subject when we mention their name. Please let us talk about them and share our memories, even if it makes you uncomfortable, just being there is better than saying anything at all.

Each of our guest authors has submitted their own writing in order to share their story. The Sunkissed Peach is committed to creating a community in which people can be open and share honestly, in all walks of life. If you are triggered by any of these stories, I ask that you reach out to a mental health professional or counselor. If you relate or have had a similar experience, please feel free to comment and interact with the author.

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