Monday, December 29, 2008

I get a little warm in my heart when I think of winter*

Holiday highlights in pictures.....

Dad waiting impatiently for the kids to come home and find the kitten Santa
left on the doorstep:

New kitten in basket, tired from that long sleigh ride from the North Pole:

Henry, very happy, holding Moses (he came in a basket, what else were we going to name him!):

'Real' letter from Santa:

Christmas has come and gone, and here we are, on the cusp of a New Year. I have written a number of journal entries in my head, but none have made it this far. So many of my thoughts have just been too personal, not something I feel is meant for public consumption. I think my reality is a little too real for a lot of people.

We made the best out of Christmas that we could. It wasn't Dad's best time - he was doing really well about a week before Christmas, and then not so much on the holiday itself. The saturday before, he came over and made spritz cookies, and I made steak frites and pomme frites. We even had Belgian beer - and Dad remarked that he didn't need to travel to Belgium now, because surely the food couldn't be any better than this. We had a really wonderful day and evening with him, and Mom said that was his Christmas! We're never able to predict how he's going to feel from one day to the next. He can have three or four really great days, where he's lucid and walks well, and can carry on a conversation and follow things, and then we'll have a week where it's just not good. And the bad days can wear on you to the point where you wonder, really, how much longer you can go on and be strong. 

People ask me a lot how things are, or how Dad is. And sometimes, I have a hard time answering, because it's not a simple reply. At least, not at the heart of it. Because the reality is this: even when the news from the doctors is 'good' - and I use this term loosely - our lives with Dad, and his life, doesn't change. He's still difficult to deal with. Sometimes he gets angry, combative, mean. Then the next moment, he's fearful and contrite and sad. His mind doesn't work so well, he can't remember things, or his brain gets stuck in this 'loop' and he'll become obsessed with a certain train of thought that he'll repeat over and over. He's frail, his clothes hang on him. He shuffles when he walks, he's unsteady and weak. We live in fear that he'll fall and get hurt. Sometimes, his face will look so blank, just like there's no one in there, and I wonder where my father has gone, and if he'll ever come back to me.

The reality of cancer is not pretty. But this, as I've said, is our new normal, and we make the best of it that we can. Some days, I handle it with grace, and some days, I don't. I'm grateful for his good days, and sad and angry at the bad ones. So much of who my Dad was is already gone, and that, some days, is just too much to bear.

Thank you all for your concern and friendship this past year. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday spent with those you love. Here's wishing us all peace and health 2009.

*all my blog titles, in case you haven't figured it out, are song lyrics. Usually whatever I'm listening to at the time. This is from the Tori Amos song "Winter"