A Girl's First Love...

A girl's father is the most important man in her life. Mine was an amazing one, and this is the story of his loss.

A Girl's First Love...

Yesterday was a day I will never forget. My dad had been in and out of the hospital over the last few weeks for having his blood sugar going from dangerously high to plummeting dangerously low as we introduced insulin. It was so hard to get regulated it seemed, and adding to the stress was the fear of every dose of insulin given, he could end up in hypoglycemic shock. I was wearing out. We finally got it regulated, and I felt like I could breathe again.

Within 24 hours of it being finally regulated and feeling I was not losing my mind, he began to say he couldn't move, and he was barely eating (which can be deadly for him with the hypoglycemia risk). I wanted to believe so badly my dad was going to make a recovery and be back to his old self in time for Christmas. I thought he was depressed, and why wouldn't he be. He had mentioned being in pain before, but we would mention it to the doctors and he would quickly deny it. "Nothing hurts on me, but my arm (affected by the stroke)." Now, he was saying he couldn't get up, and he was screaming in pain when we tried to assist him. In my mind, I was hoping this was symptomatic of depression.

I didn't know, and hearing my father scream and me being the cause was not okay, so we called an ambulance. They lifted him up with little to no problem, and he walked to the ambulance with their assistance. I got a call that evening while I was working, they were admitting him, and was given his room number. I still held on hope that this was depression. That this was just a speed bump, and that my dad as strong as he was, just needed some mental rest. He had, after all almost died from his blood sugar dropping below 20 twice, and coming to terms with that is mentally damaging. The call didn't indicate anything more. I finished my shift that night, and planned to go in the AM. I felt like he was in a safe place, and I could get a good night's rest, which I desperately needed. My nights for weeks had been me getting up every few hours checking on him for fear of another blood sugar drop.

I walked off the elevator to see "Spinal Neuro Unit" in giant letters on the wall. I held back some panic, and told myself, it's just "overflow" as they call it, and that he was just there because there was space there. I walked in, and said, "Hey Daddy! How are you?"

He was happy, but after his "Hellos," tears began to well up in his eyes. He told me they had found lesions in his lungs and his liver. I knew that word "lesions" too well. It's the same word they used to describe my youngest daughter's brain cancer two years prior.

I walked out and found the nurse, and right there in the hallway she affirmed what I thought. She asked his permission to speak to me, because he told her to not tell me over the phone the evening before. He was given the most terrifying news, and his first instinct was to protect me. He wanted me to hear it from him instead of a stranger. My dad had metastatic cancer.

He was in pain. It wasn't warranted depression, and he wasn't going to bounce back easily, if at all. I was in shock. I am still in shock. I felt like a horrible daughter, because he spent the night alone after hearing that diagnosis. I felt like a horrible daughter because when he told me he couldn't move, my first wish was he was just depressed and was having a breakdown. I felt like a horrible daughter because my entire world was there in a hospital bed, in pain, and for some reason he wanted to hide the fact he had been hurting.

Over the next hours, I was caught in a cycle of panic, guilt, and numbness. Should I call and tell them at work, because I had my first major booking that night? Then I thought about it falling apart and not being able to book anymore or getting let go and I was panicking again. That would be loss of income. If he was going to need home care, I needed all the income I can get. I was sitting there when I needed to absorb, grieve and work through it, and I was doing what I always do: finding somewhere to compartmentalize my emotions.

I went into work on auto-pilot. I made it through the show. I told my co-workers after it was over what had happened that day, and I went home and cried.

This one doesn't end in me having some epiphany or breakthrough. This one doesn't end in me feeling it will be okay. This one will hopefully be continued for a long time to come. Or at least that was the thought that comforted me 10 months ago as I began this blog post. The hope of this being the beginning of a several month journey I would embark on as we finalized his end life wishes. Before I could finish this one, we spent his last day with him.

The next day, three days after him being admitted, he left this world. We spent the last hours with him, and I will tell that story later. He waited until the kids and I left for a short break to close his eyes and let go. My heart left so broken and grateful at the same time, knowing he never had to hurt again; I lost my first love, my dearest friend, and the only person in the world I could count on. During those final minutes, he said he saw my late husband standing there, and made it a point to say he was his son. Ryan met him that day, and I couldn't finish this until today, 10 months later.

To be continued...

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Angela Brigance-Vance

Mother of four, navigating life post loss of husband.  Co-host and Producer of NewVMusic vlog and owner of Virtuosity Agency, with a crazy life.  

See all posts by Angela Brigance-Vance