I was talking to Mummy again today, and she obviously is still struggling over the loss of Daddy.
All I can do is support her, love her, listen. She mentions various things during these talks, and one of the things she mentioned today was how much she was in denial before Daddy passed away. She was told by Daddy's physicians he was getting weaker, but she just kept dismissing their concerns and held onto the belief that Daddy was going to get better. In addition, mentioning anything along the lines of dying around Daddy was a guaranteed way to make him uncontrollably anxious - rightfully so - so Mummy kept telling him he would be okay. I think they both needed to hold onto those beliefs to help them cope, and I had no intention of shattering their faith, no matter what I knew.
I spoke to Daddy's physician over Thanksgiving, and he told me he was worried that it would only be a short time before Daddy had another event. He said I should consider speaking to Daddy about changing his code status.
Daddy wanted to be a full code, meaning he wanted everything possible to be done to revive him in the case his heart or lungs shut down. I didn't want Daddy to be a full code because I've seen how brutal resuscitation attempts can be, and I didn't want Daddy to suffer anymore. But I declined because Daddy was fully lucid and I would respect his wishes for as long as he was able to make his own. And the doctor said he would continue to have a conversation with Daddy about his goals, and that was the end of the conversation.
When Mummy asked me what the doctor said, I just told her Daddy was very sick, but nobody could say for certain how much time he had left. Knowing the full extent of Daddy's illness was only going to harm her, and there was no need to share the full truth. But as an anesthesiologist, one who has taken care of similarly sick patients in the ICU setting, I had the feeling the end was near. Even a couple of days before Daddy passed away, Mummy told me he was looking better... yet I still had this gut feeling he was going to die, and I started looking for tickets home that night. I almost bought one, but at the last minute decided against it because I convinced myself I was just being paranoid. But I knew.
The last night I saw Daddy during Thanksgiving, I completed the mustard oil custom as I stated in Post #11. I sat with Daddy and watched Wheel of Fortune (his favorite show). We only had brief conversations, mainly because he did not have a speaking valve for his tracheostomy, and I was awful at lip-reading. But just before I was about to leave, Daddy looked at me and mouthed with a pleading look in his eyes:
"Will I be okay?"
This crushed me.
I knew how sick Daddy was and the realities of his sickness were far too real in my mind. But what I thought he needed was not someone random to tell him he was dying, but for his son to say everything was going to be okay. So I took a deep breath, looked at him and told him what I had told Mummy. He was very sick. No one knew when the end would be. It was important to just focus on getting better, getting stronger. And I told him my only wish was he was comfortable and did not suffer.
But, I didn't feel right leaving it at that. I would never be so cruel as to have me, his son, tell Daddy his death was inevitable, but I also wasn't going to completely bullshit with him because he never bullshitted with me (see Post #2).
I told him the life he was living was no life. Defecating in your bed, struggling to breathe, muscles wasting away while trapped in a hospital bed with tubes and lines popping out of every known orifice... dammit, it sucks to think about the shittiness of his last days. When I asked him if he thought his quality of life was good by any definition, he looked at me and shook his head "no".
He knew the truth.
And as his son, I think he asked me that original question because he knew I would be a bit more honest than others, and I think he appreciated it. But what I did offer as a last bit of comfort was, no matter what, I would do everything in my power to ensure he remained as comfortable as possible for the rest of his days and to take care of the family, especially Mummy. And with a slight smile, he mouthed okay. With that, I gave him a huge hug, I kissed him multiple times and he kissed me, I told him I loved him and he said it back, we smiled at one other, and I waved goodbye.
I ultimately did get the opportunity to tell him everything would be okay, but in a raw, emotional and honest way. I think every child hopes their final conversations with a parent convey how much they love and care about them. The love was evident from both ends.
And considering that was the last conversation I ever had face-to-face with Daddy, I feel blessed to have shared that moment with him.