On August 2, 2017 time stood still. My dad lost his incredibly courageous 7 month battle to stage 4 kidney cancer. My mom, brother, aunt and I crowded into his hospital room and listened to some of his favorite music (Disney music to be exact) and got to share his final moments before he earned his wings. While the song “I’ve got a Dream” from Tangled played in the background we watched him breathe in one last time and sat in silent anticipation to see if there would be one last exhale. When the exhale didn’t come, time stopped.
I remember feeling like the temperature rose to 5000 degrees and all of the oxygen in his room had been sucked out. The strongest, bravest, brightest light in my life was gone. I remember feeling angry, jaded and above all else, helpless. How could he have been sick for 10 years prior and not known? How did we not catch it sooner? How would I learn to lead a normal life and function at a normal capacity without him around? Time had stopped.
The minutes following were arguably the strangest of my entire life. We exchanged confused looks as if to say “what now?”. What was the right thing to do next? Pack up and head home? Stay in the room and mourn at his bedside? I’ve since realized that there really is no “right” way to react under such circumstances and that the cliche montages in movies and episodes of Grey’s Anatomy couldn’t be more inaccurate.
For about a month after my father’s death time continued to stand still. My family reverted back to toddler like tendencies. We slept when we were tired, ate when we were hungry, cried when we needed to (even if it was at an inappropriate time-for me this usually happened during my morning commute on the train) and attempted to hold it all together. It felt like we were living inside a glass box and all around us life was full steam ahead while we stood still.
5 months later and it still feels like he’s going to walk through the door at any moment. It’s inconceivable that I will never get a “morning punkin” text, or hear his infectious belly laugh ever again. Anyone who has suffered the loss of a parent can relate to the feeling, there is honestly nothing like it.
It seems improbable that time will ever move at a normal speed again. I’m 5 months into what seems to be a never ending grieving process. If nothing else, I’ve learned that time stopping means I have more seconds per day to soak up every last memory and continue to live my life in a way that would make him proud.
I love you Dad. I miss you every second of every day.