We were faced with two separate problems, like a Rubik’s cube that needed to be turned in just the right way. First, my dad needed surgery to stop internal bleeding. Second, he had cancer.
Cancer. This one word carries a thousand fears.
The fear I felt that day made it hard to breathe. It made my thoughts swirl and my heart ache. A former nurse, my mom relayed the details in a clinical manner. It was a forced, slow, monotonous delivery that was meant to be calming but had the opposite effect. I had heard this voice before, but only when someone had died.
It took effort to focus on the facts, pushing aside my feelings, and listen to what she was saying. In ICU, my dad had received four times the amount of blood normally in his body. Whatever they pumped in was flowing right out, and he would be taken for surgery as soon as the doctors could muster a team.
My mom guided me into the ICU and brushed aside a curtain to reveal my dad on a gurney. With his pale skin and disheveled white hair, I hardly recognized him.
When I think about my dad, I’m always a kid, and he’s always in his 40's; he has thick, black hair and is walking me to school. He’s showing me how to hit a baseball, or quizzing me about multiplication tables. He’s cooking stir fry.
I navigated a path to his bedside through machines and tubes and held his hand. He looked so weak.
BrightStar Care is honored to feature Leah’s unique story, an experience shared by many adult children as their parents grow older and caregiving roles begin to reverse. Follow Leah’s journey here.
All names, including the author’s, have been changed to protect identities, and Leah has no affiliation with BrightStar Care.