A little over a year ago, my dad was diagnosed with cancer... again.
He was first diagnosed with throat cancer in late 1998. At the time, the surgeon he spoke with gave him a 40% chance of living another year, if, he underwent extensive surgery. Fortunately, a couple of really great doctors, and chemo and radiation therapy saved him; five years later, he had a clean bill of health -- nearly full recovery, and no sign of the original cancer. But, after a year or so of good news, the news turned bad again. A new cancer, likely a result of the original radiation therapy, had developed into a tumor. In the following months, various experimental treatments helped, and a return to chemo shrunk the tumor for a while. But, this year, the doctors have had to acknowledge that the treatments they have been exploring are no longer working.
It has been a difficult time for our family and friends. Especially difficult for my mom. But both she and my dad have demonstrated exceptional grace. My mom has truly lived the traditional wedding vow "in sickness and in health."
The original radiation treatment damaged my dad's saliva glands, and in the last several months, the tumor has grown large enough that it interferes with his ability to swallow. The combination has made speech increasingly difficult for him. Lately, our convesations have been pretty one-sided.
Last night, I had a dream in which I was talking with him. It didn’t surprise me at all, but when I realized that I was enjoying our talk, I turned to face him. The person I saw was late 20-something, not exactly my dad, but very familiar; very similar to photos of my dad from that era. When I realized that he was “well” I hugged him, and could feel my emotions welling up.
Then I woke up....
I miss the times we spent talking with each other. And, with our time together now measured in weeks, or perhaps, days, I know that I’ll soon miss him entirely. But, I feel fortunate that I’ve had the opportunity to talk to him, thank him for everything he has done for me, hug him a few more times, and tell him how much I love him.
…Don’t take time with your friends and loved ones for granted.