I am sitting at my parents' kitchen table. The sun is out and the leaves are still turning. While the cherry is almost bare, the wisteria is still quite green and the poplars yellow. It is crisp in the shade but much of the farm is in direct morning sun, verdant.
Dad is down the hall in bed. He doesn't leave the bed now, though this morning he was well enough to sit up for breakfast (a change from the hideousness of previous days). I have been here for 5 days now and I am witnessing the end of life. It is a terrible suspension. Dad is not generally in pain, but he's fighting the progression of the disease inside his head, the foggiest and the swirliness (as he describes it) a challenge he feels he ought to be able to face (I mean, he's always been able to figure it all out, right?) He's terribly tired all the time. He's ready to leave.
Why couldn't I type 'ready to die' just then?
If we had known what the end would look like, I think we might have all been paralysed by fear in the early days of this (ha, early days. It's not even been five months since his diagnosis). I don't mean to scaremonger, while cancer and end of life have their general commonalities, your experience will differ, I'm sure. Mum and I are petrified about what the next days and weeks hold though, now. All this advancement, civilisation, and end of life can still be a ghastly, drawn out process.
It's generally calm. Dad rests or sleeps, we prepare the next meal, tidy up, make necessary phone calls to hospice, occupational therapists, home caring agencies. Occasionally there are moments of difficulty. We cry from time to time. The baby kicks restlessly while I am in bed or on the couch.
I go home for four days from tomorrow. I have an antenatal class, a scan appointment I shouldn't miss. I'm rescheduling the midwife on Monday to return. I feel terribly conflicted about it. My aunt and then my sister will be visiting over those four days so I'm not leaving them alone, but what if? I'm looking forward to the respite too, which is even more awful.
P joined us from Saturday to Monday afternoon and was very helpful. Dad cried when he left, and I know why. P told Dad he loved him.