My Dad Died
I knew Abah was dying. You know that thing you read about your legs giving way? That was exactly what it felt when the doctor told me over the phone, 87 days before he passed away, that he had advanced non-small cell lung cancer. Until today, at this moment where I’m lying in the same bed in my parents’ home where I have so comfortably found myself in various nooks and crevices, haunted by the memory of him, it doesn’t feel real.
Watching your father die is exhausting — physically and emotionally. I have never faced death and terminal illness as head on as I have the past three months. My dad has always taught me that you showed up for family — and that’s exactly what I did. I showed up. 87 days of doctor appointments, of morphine, of firefighting deterioration, of fighting for answers, of medications, of hospital stays, of exhaustion, denial and anger. Of tears, a lot of tears. This, amidst taking care of my mother, and my husband and a toddler.
Watching your father die is excruciating. Everything that he was was withering right in front of me — his physical strength, something I’ve always associated him with through my life was being chipped away. His love for food faded away. Cancer took away so much of who he once was, and in such a short time. His love for us, his fight and his unwavering integrity didn’t budge a little, right till his very last breath.
Watching your father die will make you realise how selfish you can be. Every time I prayed to Allah for Abah’s strength, I’d also ask for more time so he can see my son go to school, or to spend my mother’s next birthday with her, or just so I can have one more Father’s Day with him. I knew when to let go though — I knew all he wanted was release from his earthly body in his last few days and that’s what I prayed. I prayed for his release.
Watching your father die will crush you because it will never seem real. Even if you’ve watched the monitor flatline, even when you’ve watched the undertaker carry his lifeless body from the mortuary to the van, even when you’ve watched his body lowered to the ground, and be one with the earth. Even when you know that the reason that the hollow heaviness that permanently exists in your chest is because your father died, you will still expect him to saunter out of his bedroom in his worn-to-death sarong, plop on the couch and switch the TV.
My Abah died. I’m forever broken, and I will never not grieve and long for him.