My father fought and clung heroically to life, but it was not because he was afraid of death. He wanted to stay a part of the conversation and wasn ' t quite ready to let go of bearing witness to all that this conscious life offered.
The most challenging experience of my life was watching my father die, slowly and painfully, from kidney cancer in 2oro. He was diagnosed in 2 0 0 3 and given four months to live, but managed to survive for another seven years. Seven years of experimental drugs, ofvomit, of spitting blood, of tumors and sores on his skin and tongue. Seven years of inappropriate cancer jokes, deep conversations, magical thinking, promises sworn, intimacy shared. Seven years of coming to terms, secrets confessed, regrets acknowledged, forgiveness asked and given, requests made, futures discussed, and a funeral to plan. In those seven years I was not only a daughter but also a soul companion aiding one of its own to transition. I experienced emotions unimaginable-unless, of course, you've also held in your arms the wasted, barely breathing carcass of a man still your father yet unrecognizable. Then you know what I mean.
My father fought and clung heroically to life, but it was not because he was afraid of death. He wanted to stay a part of the conversation and wasn't quite ready to let go of bearing witness to all that this conscious life offered. Dying, he let us know, sucked. But death itselfwas not something to fear. W e spoke about it freely and openly, the same way we spoke in our house about cancer, love, sex, everything. My father wanted to talk about it all. This allowed me to process the pain, fear, grief, confusion, and anger, as well as the deep, deep love I had felt and feel to this day. This is what got me through this time. Talking it out. My father gave me the gift of communication and created the space for me to be present to all the many complicated feelings that arose during his dying and his death. Nothing was repressed or unsaid. As a result of this freedom to fully express, we were both able to let go.