Wednesday, January 11, 2012

First Smile in a While


Monday, January 2, 2012

The River and My Dad

It's been five months since I posted last. Five months... when I last wrote I was worried but hopeful. Counting down those months on one hand I'm amazed at how little time we had left with my Dad.

Remember when I last said the prognosis was good? That changed. It was in August that we were told that the cancer had spread too far and had been caught too late. I remember Dad asking the oncologist, "can you give me ten more years?" and his very quiet reply that he could not.

A few days before we got the news that the cancer was inoperable I had an accident on a river. Our late spring led to flooded streams and rushing water. Perhaps not the best of times to take one's first inner tubing trip. Due to a breakdown in communication the company we rented the tubes from sent us on the adventurous run instead of the gentle run. We expected a pleasant day floating lazily down the river and got a white water experience sans lifejackets. And really, I should have known better than to be on the water without a floatation device. I grew up around boats and sailed enough with Dad to know the dangers of water.

As chance would have it, I was on the wrong side of the river when we got to the pull out area and the current would not allow me to get to safety. I gave up my tube and tried to swim for it but it was no use and I was swept away through narrow and rocky rapids and disappeared for some time under the white water.

Three miraculous things happened. In the middle of chaos I came back in contact with my inner tube and was able to use it as a life buoy to keep me off the worst of the rocks. I was then thrown into a tiny cave where I was able to breathe for a little bit. Once the force of the water pushed me back out of the cave, I washed up on a rock and held onto it with my fingernails until my Dad, who had just showed up to give us a lift back, rushed to the shore and grabbed my hand and held it fast and made sure I didn't go tumbling onto further danger downstream.

My Dad still felt fairly well then... it was a handful of days before the oncologist would tell him he couldn't give him time... and a handful of months before the night I would stay up until the dawn light keeping him as comfortable as possible at home in a bed by the Christmas tree. My Dad passed away on Christmas Eve... my hero, my Christmas angel.

You are loved and will be missed more than I could possibly express.