07 March 2006

One down

What they don't tell you, growing up, is that there are some things you'll face that really do change everything. The death of a parent is one of them.

I'd written a lot about my father, recently. And yes, there are far more horrible medical circumstances than being kept alive by a ventilator, feeding tube, and IV drip. But the pain I've experienced came from watching my father lose the possibility of returning to a fraction of the life he once lead while being maintained in a way that appears inhuman.

It's not death – and in particular, my father's death -- that bothered me. It's the somewhere between living and dying where Dad was stuck that made me furious. How could this happen to him? Why couldn't I have done something to prevent this travesty? How can I help my father to make a choice between living a half-life and dying -- and truly being at peace?

In the end I'm not sure he made a choice: his body failed, and he could neither fight his way back to health, or to gracefully accept that he's at the end of life and let go. But I'm sure that he's now at peace, however tortured the path was to get there.

Now, it's about my grief and my grieving. I suspect this won't be pretty, that my choices may be bad, and that things will seem much worse before they get better.

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