Waiting to exhale

My father is my anchor, my heart. We are very close. We’ve been through a lot together. He’s a friend, a support, and a wonderful grandfather.

Last spring he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. It came as a shock. I wondered how this could this happen to him. He’s only 57 and has always been vibrant, healthy and bigger than life. At least to me.

I didn’t take it well. The news sank deep, and sat still and dark, like a lump in my heart. It was the beginning of a severe downward spiral. Thankfully the cancer was found early, and the prognosis was excellent. But this didn’t settle the vibrations spreading in my deepest core, a new knowing that this person who I love so much, who has been my whole world for so very long is susceptible, vulnerable just like the rest of us. I spent many months ignoring it, burying my fear. I didn’t acknowledge. Refused to.

Until last week.

He had his prostate removed in October. The surgery was a terrific success. His surgeon couldn’t have been more pleased. The recovery has been steady and free of complications. He looks well, he feels well. We’ve all been holding our breath, waiting for 10 long weeks to know how this would all turn out. The results of his blood work that would tell us if the surgery was successful weren’t due until January 4. But we got an early Christmas gift, one we all so badly needed. On December 22 he had a check-up with our family doctor. Our doctor said the results had come back early. My dad didn’t want to know, I would imagine he sucked in his breath. But our doctor assured him he did. And we couldn’t have asked for better. He is cancer free and healthy again.

Exhale.

My husband called to give me the news because I was out with a friend. At first it didn’t hit me. Not until I was driving home. And I cried. I cried, and I cried and I cried. I cried away all the pent up emotion and fear that I had felt for months. It was a relief such that I don’t remember ever feeling before. He’s well. God willing we’ll have many, many years together ahead. He will continue to be a part of my life, my connection to reality, my daddy.

I first published this post more than a year ago. It seems fitting to share it with you again, here and now.

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If you read my blog you know that I lost my mother at a very young age. Her death had the most profound impact on my life and has shaped who I am more than any other single event in my life. I often tell people that losing my mother so young defined my future in an instant. As hard as it has been for me and as much as it has defined my life, the loss of her was as significant to him. At only 28 my father was left alone to parent two young girls (I was 4, my sister was 2). I can only imagine how scary and lonely that must have been for him. However he didn’t let it consume him, he stepped up and was the best father, the best daddy two girls could ever have.

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Dear Dad,

Thank you for being everything to me. Thank you for being the father I needed always. Without you I would never have been able to heal and grow. You gave us as much love as two parents and for that I will always be grateful and in awe.

Thank you for being strong when all you probably wanted to do was run. People offered you help, an escape, but you didn’t take it. We needed you and you were there for us. Thank you for being a daddy to two girls. How hard that must have been.

Thank you for working so hard, days, nights and weekends, so that we could have so many opportunities.

Thank you for making dinner every night, especially spaghetti which is a favourite to all of us to this day. Probably because it reminds us of you.

Thank you for spending countless hours at the rink for figure skating, hockey, and ringette. I know you loved it, but you still deserve to be thanked. I will always remember the look of pride in your eyes the time I got to stand on the podium.

Thank you for always coming to get me at school when I was sick. For being available in ways that would be hard for a family with two parents.

Thank you for all your help with my math homework. I used to secretly pretend I needed it just so we could sit and be together. It was magic!

Thank you for coming and listening to me speak in public speaking competitions over and over, no matter what the subject. The hours must have been long, but you came. And for that I’m grateful.

Thank you for your willingness to pick me up at late at night, even in the dark Canadian cold, so I could go out with my friends.

Thank you for going to school meetings, especially the one to advocate that we should be able to wear what we wanted to our graduation. I don’t expect that was easy. But it meant so much to me.

Thank you for being strict. I didn’t know it then, but I understand now how important it was. You started the cycle, and provided a foundation that now I’m giving my boys.

Thank you for being so gentle and kind, for believing in me no matter what. Thank you for the pride in your eyes.

Thank you for being such an amazing grandfather, for loving my children as you did me and for making a difference in their lives.

Thank you for coming early mornings to take your grandchildren to daycare so that I could leave for work early and they could sleep in.

Thank you for helping us to build not one, but two houses. Your tender loving touch is all around me. This is a home that love built. I feel you at the heart of it.

Thank you for being constant, and loving, and always on my side.

I’m all grown up now with two kids of my own. Yet still you are here for me whenever I need you. I might be an adult, but I still need you so much.

From the bottom of my heart,

Christine

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22 thoughts on “Waiting to exhale

  1. Annie says:

    Christine, this made me cry with the beauty and truth of it. So often, we are unable to say these things to our dads, but you could not have said it better. I am so, so happy for you and your entire family that your father is now well and cancer-free. I wish you decades of wonderful years ahead with him. Happy holidays!

  2. Rudri says:

    Christine,

    Somehow, someway I missed this post. There is so much here that resonates with me. I am so glad that your father is well and cancer free. The joy of that statement makes me cry. My father was my anchor and when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer it knocked all of us out. Unfortunately, as you know, he never quite became cancer free.
    I lived some of my own memories of my father through this post. Thanks so much for sharing it again.
    xoxo

  3. Justine says:

    Oh I’m in tears – so happy for this great news for you and your dad. And also in awe of your dad who stepped up to fill both roles so wonderfully. I could only wish for a dad HALF as amazing as yours. Hope you had a great Christmas my dear friend – sounds like you did 🙂

  4. Kelly says:

    This is such a beautiful post, Christine. My father chose not to participate in my life when I was growing up, so I have an immense soft spot for good dads. It sounds as though you got the best of the bunch. I hope he reads this and understands what a priceless gift his love has been for you.

  5. Cathy says:

    Christine, you are so fortunate to have that beautiful rock in your life. I’m glad you got to exhale.

  6. Kate says:

    What terrific news! Daddies matter so much to their girls, little or not.

  7. How wonderful that you took this opportunity to write down all of these gifts – simple and profound – that your father has given you. And how lucky for your readers that we had the chance to read about such a special father-daughter relationship. I am so glad that your dad has remained cancer-free and I hope most sincerely that you will have many more years together to celebrate life and love. xo

  8. Amber says:

    I am so, so glad to hear that your father is cancer-free. And I love your tribute to him. It’s really, really beautiful.

    I can see why this has been a difficult year for you. My mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer this year, and had a mastectomy in October. She also has a very good prognosis. But even still, it’s very scary and difficult. Not least because many of us still view our parents as being invincible.

  9. I am so glad the news was good. What a wonderful way to begin the new year. Hugs.

  10. Stacia says:

    Oh, boy, do I understand the waiting, the ignoring, the pushing down, the not wanting to know … and the relief at finally being able to release those emotions, painful and raw and real. I’m so glad for you and your dad. What a Christmas gift!

  11. Ellie says:

    Oh, how beautiful this is. I’m so glad you got the good news and were able to exhale… I went through something similar with my Dad about four years ago (lymphoma) and I didn’t process it at all until I knew he was out of the woods… it’s a powerful thing.

    I loved the letter, too.

    Thanks for sharing this, and reminding me to appreciate the amazing gift I have in my Dad.

    -Ellie

  12. I am so glad for you that for father has pulled through and is now OK. Having lost my father just this year, I know how hard that can be. Hoping that your 2011 is full of all good things.

  13. A Crafty Mom says:

    Wonderful news, Christine. Worrying about a loved one is very taxing on us, both emotionally and physically. So glad things have turned around and your dad is doing well. Looks like 2011 could be a real success for both of you 🙂

  14. What a wonderful Christmas present. I’m so happy for you and your family.

  15. Capital Mom says:

    I am very happy for you and your dad.

  16. Amber says:

    Christine, it is lovely to see you back on-line and writing. This post really took my breath away. There is so much treasures in each line that I can’t even pick out a favorite. Thank you for posting this.

  17. Courtney says:

    this is beautiful

    what a great early christmas preent you all got.

  18. Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

  19. Thanks for some quality points there. I am kind of new to online , so I printed this off to put in my file, any better way to go about keeping track of it then printing?

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