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My daddy is gone and I don't understand!!

Jennifer Barnhill

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Jennifer Barnhill

In November 2019 my father called me from his home in North Carolina. I lived about 5 hours away in South Carolina and informed me he was sick and not feeling well, As normal as it seemed I would jump in my car and rush to be with him. He had been having diarrhea for several weeks and they could not figure out why. It was not an infection of the bowels, not his gall bladders, not really sure what it could be, The next step was to run test to see if he had ulcers in is stomach. So again we waited for that appointment. My dad had already been diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer and lymphoma cancer (which he beat both of them). I thought to myself how many times can my daddy get get cancer before God thinks it's enough. So this time I went into this think NO CANCER!   On Thanksgiving my husband and myself went back to North Carolina to spend with my dad and stepmom. My stepmom is living in a nursing home due to parkinsonism and dementia and my dad was unable to take care of her anymore but he would go everyday to visit her no matter how he felt. Thanksgiving was good, but dad did not eat much. He apatite had really changed since he was so sick. I noticed the weigh coming off of him like before when we went through the lymphoma treatment, but no treatment had started yet. On December 6, 2019 we were informed that he had stage 4 lung cancer. My strong, hero, dad sat there and broke down and cried. I can't think of a time when I ever saw him cry in my life and I was 47 years old. Over the next month he would call and go back and forth to the ER and doctors. I seemed to be either in North Carolina with my dad or with my mom who lives about 76 miles away from me who was also in and out of the hospital. I knew I could not be in 2 places at one time. The week of Christmas my dad was in the hospital so I thought go see your mom. I allowed my father to spend his last Christmas alone in a hospital knowing he was fighting the worse fight of his life. I then decided to go there because he needed me. I am like my dad - going to do it my way and only my way. The doctors told him he could go home, but nope he was not going. He was sick and still had diarrhea and no one had told him why other then the cancer and they could not stop it. So I left and came home only to turn around the next day and go back because they were releasing him. At this point we know it is Stage 4 Lung Cancer, but my dad would not start treatment. He said because of the diarrhea but I feel  there was more to it. On Saturday January 4, 2020 I told him he was coming home with me to live in South Carolina. He had only met my husband 2 times before he moved in with us, but it did not matter to me because my dad needed me and I was going to be there. I got him in hospice, new doctors, and even his cats new vets. We were going to fight this cancer and win!! He was dad when I brought him here to my house and he was going to keep being that. But little did I know that was not the way things were going to be. As the days went on he started changing. He became inpatient, mean, not wanting to be bothered. I now know he was giving up on "us" i guess without tell me in so many words. His birthday is February 11th and he wasn't or didn't want to celebrate it at all. Honestly, in my mind no big deal because we had more birthdays to spend together. Then Valentines Day the same thing with him! He wanted nothing to do with it. He did not even want to call or speak to my stepmom. But I just pushed the thoughts away because my dad was the type of dad you don't ask why or question. I bought a baby monitor and cameras to stay on top of him. If he called me at night I would hear him. I was working during this time because honestly I just did not know what was going to happen. I now wish someone would of slapped and said Jennifer wake up your father is in there dying and your time is short. Make the most of it, go in there and talk to him, sit with him, ask him does he want you to read something to him, anything! I was living in a moment thinking my dad is not going anywhere even though I now can look back and see how he was physically and mentally changing. When he came to my house he was waking by himself, then with a cane, then with a walker, and then he just stopped walking or getting up at all and my eyes at the time did not see this taking place. I looked and all I saw was the saw was the same man as always my daddy! He had stopped eating, drinking, and going to the restroom on his own. He was my dad still but he had become just a body lying in a bed with no voice, no desire to fight and I just did not notice. I came home on February 28, 2020 (my husbands birthday) and when I came in I felt a sudden change in the environment of my home. I checked on my dad and he was different. He was laying on his side, his arm was shaking, and his eyes had a different look in them. I called hospice to come then...right then! What seemed like forever they were here with my husband by my side. They said he was going to go on oxygen, morphine, and another medicine to keep him calm.  We fixed him in the bed and got him all cleaned up.  I was told the medicine and oxygen would be here that night. We waited and waited and it did not come. On Saturday morning I  woke up and realized that for the first time since my dad had been at my home he had not called me all night. I was so scared, but I knew my husband was up and he had checked on him because they had formed a special bond. I slowly walked down stairs just in fear, but he was just as we had left him the night before and still here with me. I took a deep breath and walked in there and told him how much I loved him and did he need anything. He made no motion or comment. All day he just laid there and finally the oxygen and medicine came. I felt better know he was having help breathing, but still in a fog I guess about what was really going on with him. Sunday morning the same thing- nothing all night. Why had he not needed me for 2 nights? My husband was at work so I had to come down by myself not knowing again what I was walking into. But again he had moved and was still breathing. I knew he needed to be cleaned up, but it was different this time because I could not move him at all by myself. He put his hand up for me to leave him alone, but I told him I could not leave him. I called my husband and told him what happened when I went to change and clean him and he said when he got home we would do it together. That day for strange reason I reached out to everyone to let them know that my dad was getting worse and I didn't know how much longer he would be here. I was telling people on March 1, 2020 that we had at least till Easter. My husband finally told me that I needed to realize that I did not have till Easter. I said I have until the end of March and no one was going to tell me different. My son texted me on March 1. 2020 at 3:57 pm and said "just checking on you. Hope you are having a good day. I love you." I told him I don't have good days anymore. My dad had been at my home since January and my son and his family came over once! I explained to him how his grandfather had changed. He said they would be coming over. Then later he texted and asked should he come that night at 8 or the next night around 6. I didn't know the answer. My husband said tell him if he wats to see his grandpa he needs to come tonight. Confused as I was I told him. A some point they showed and then my best friend was here. I don't remember calling her or texting her. I remember calling the funeral home here in SC because my dad had already taken care of his funeral arrangements in North Carolina. I had to get things moved here since all funeral homes do not do cremation. It seemed things were going just as every night but little did I know what was happening in the room with my father, I went in there to be with him and he was taking deep deep breaths and they were long before he would do the next one. I called hospice because I just knew something was wrong, but not knowing what really what was happening. I went back in there with my dad and got down on my knees and just held his hand and rubbed his head telling him "I love you and if you have to go it's ok. I will take care of my stepmom and he 2 cats until last breath. I kept saying I love you dad!! My son came in and said "Grandpa it's ok if you need to go. I will be here with mom and I will make sure she gets through this no matter what." My dad took a deep deep breath and released it across my face. I can still feel it now. That was his last breath. My dad was gone March 1, 2020 at 8:20 pm. I was not ready, prepared, or even ready to live my life without the man who loved me first, the man I looked up to as my hero, my daddy, my biggest supporter. How, why and etc. How do I go on without him? I miss him more each day and love him more each day. How can a daughter live without the first man who truly loved her?    

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