One

My father, Gregory John Entwistle, was diagnosed with advanced esophageal cancer in September 2013. Five months later, on February 12, 2014, he was gone.

Today is the one year anniversary of his passing and I have waited for this day with such dread. I asked friends for support and prayers. I anxiously tried to write a post that would honor him and the past year we’ve spent without him. I drank a little too much wine. I cried a little (or a lot). And then this morning, I woke up.

And it was just another day.

I’m not sure what I expected. I guess I thought I would wake up to a giant wave of grief, a new and sudden avalanche of feelings because ONE YEAR. ONE. It feels like such a big milestone, but if you get down to the heart of the matter, things are still the same now as they were right after he passed. Six months after he passed. Yesterday. I still miss him. I still feel like something so big is missing from our lives. I still think about him every day. I still teeter on the edge of anger. Still look for reason or meaning behind the early passing of such a good, kind man. I still wish that things were different.

But they are not. They are not different and he is not here.

One year hasn’t changed anything. It’s just another day.

Another day that I miss you, Daddy. So, so much.

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Grief

I remember the first time I felt real grief. It was when my Nana died, and I was in high school. Since then, I’ve felt varying levels of loss, sadness and pain, but never again have I had to deal with the kind of grief that physically removes the air from your lungs and bends you to your knees.

Until last week. When I got the news that my Dad had a tumor in his esophagus. That the doctors were concerned enough to take a biopsy. That we would know something in a week. I hung up the phone and bent over and felt the heaviness of all the “what ifs” wash over me as I imagined saying goodbye, having my KIDS say goodbye, to someone so big and so important to us all. And for a week, I grieved over what could be. I alternated between hopeful and hopeless. I wore big sunglasses so my kids couldn’t see the silent tears that would slide down my face while I drove them to school. I canceled social engagements so I wouldn’t have to keep up a brave face.

Sometimes I would get caught up in my children, in our lives, and I would forget. For a moment, I would forget my grief. But then, a word, a song, a thought, would trigger it and my stomach would tighten, my heart would seize and I would hurt. Physically hurt from it all. And, I would feel guilty. Because when something so big is looming over you, it feels like it should take over life, like there can’t be room for anything else. But life does continue, and so I waded through, feeling removed from it all while I waited for the answers to all the “what ifs.”

And then we got our answer. It IS cancer. It HAS spread. There are spots on his liver. They said “small” spots, but all I heard was, SPREAD. My parents reacted positively. They rejoiced that it hadn’t permeated his body. I felt small, and mean, and ungrateful because I couldn’t rejoice. I could only rail against the universe that this was happening to such a GOOD MAN.

And so we move forward. We ATTACK. Dad meets with doctors. They create a treatment plan. They treat. We see how Dad responds. They treat more. We pray.

We pray.

I don’t even really know how to put into words how I feel. I think at this point I feel numb. I feel tired. WEARY. I think that is the word. I feel weary and I’ve only been dealing with this grief for a little over a week. How long will this take? How long will I feel scared, and uncertain and worried and WEARY?

I’m not ready to say goodbye to my Dad. And I know for a fact he isn’t ready to say goodbye to our family. That is the silver lining. That no matter what the tests say, or the doctors say, or the Internet or the statistics say, my Dad is a force of nature. He is single minded. Focused. Dedicated. Determined. Positive. I have to believe that if anyone was going to beat this thing, it will be my father. I have to believe it because the alternative is unacceptable.

Love you daddy.

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