Last night my mother called me and told me that my father’s test results have all come back now. It’s official, what he has is lung cancer.
I’m again slipping into the daze that came over me in May. I am dazed. It’s one thing to contemplate one’s father’s mortality, in some distant future, but another to have to confront something so solid and weighty and inexorable.
My father has lung cancer. My father is dying.
Back in May for those few days when my brother told me that my father was sick, sick and going down, I went to work, came home, walked the streets of Londontown and nothing seemed real. I was a dream world, and everything was happening as though someone had slowed down the frames per second in my life’s movie.
I don’t think I expected this.
It’s all fine and good to live with my father abandoning me; to live with knowing that he is going to die someday, and realising that someday is just around the corner.
I feel weirdly detached as well, as though it’s happening but to someone else. I mean I guess there’s a part of me that can’t stop crying because I thought my Papi was bigger than life, and going to live forever.
It’s also struggling with what is rational to express. My father is a bastard… a charming somewhat pleasant bastard, but a bastard at the bottom of it all. We’re talking about a man that has done little or nothing for all five of his children, a man who beat his wife and was caught up in a vice grip of drugs and alcohol and who has cared for little else other than the plight and stuggle of Black people forgetting that Black people including his wife and offspring.
It’s not that he didn’t feel love, it’s just he’s been so damaged by his family and his own choices that he was largely unable to show it.
For me, I lived with a secret hope that he would wake up one day and change, that he would find a way to change. Maybe 90% of me had given up on him changing his life and becoming my father, but 10% of me hoped for more.
Now he’s dying, well and truly dying, his body catching up to the emotional death he died long, long ago.
I am emotionally effected by this, and emotionally detached. Lung cancer, lung cancer…. say it one more time, LUNG CANCER.
I suppose I feel glad in a way that I am not in Trinidad. I don’t think I would have the strength to watch him physically deteriorate and then let go and die.
I don’t want to see that, watch that. I’ve been insulated from the worst of my father’s decades long deterioration, and I am grateful for it. Grateful for the distance that has been a continuous presence in my connection to him. I don’t want to see that. I am thankful now, because I made my peace with him.
Last year, before I left Trinidad I made my peace with him and the things he has done, has not done, will never do. He stood up and fought for me when I needed him to handle the situation.
Right now, I want to stop smoking. I want to go learn Spanish so I can speak in my grandmother and father’s language. So that if I have to go back and see him before he dies, I can speak to him the way he always wanted me to… en ~Espanol.
I don’t know how to feel ultimately, other than helplessness. I feel helpless. My father has been killing himself slowly for about 25 years, and now he’s dying slowly. I am that four year old girl again, helpless to do anything but watching as permanent rifts explode in her family life.
I am the tough bitch who says, well, this is a man who I didn’t grow up with and that did very little for me when I was growing up, and what he did in my adulthood was too little too late to make a difference.
So how should I feel?
I am sad, I am indifferent, I am glad I am thousands of miles away, I wish I was there… I am a bag of mixed emotions.
:sigh: More shit… more shit to deal with.