Your Stories

Writing - My Wailing Wall

In the final months of my Dad's life, one of my brothers looked at me and asked, “Do you have to write so much?” His question took me aback, and, after thinking for a second, I responded with, “Yes, I have to write; writing is my way.” I added, “Writing is the way I try to make sense of all of this, to process, to release, to heal and to know that others are bearing witness to my experience, to know that I am not alone.” He smiled, that knowing smile of his, and said that that was what he thought.

In mid-July, I was with my Dad in the doctor's office when we learned of the reason he had become jaundiced. My Dad had terminal pancreatic cancer, and with his advanced Parkinson's Disease, his prognosis was six months, plus or minus three. When Dad heard his prognosis, he laughed and told the doctor that, seeing as he was such a procrastinator, he'd probably live longer than that. He lived for three and a half months.

On my Dad's 80th birthday, July 26, after two days of diagnostic procedures at Vancouver General Hospital, we flew back to the Yukon. Another flight later, Air North touched down in Dawson City and my Dad was home. That was all he wanted – to die at home. His final wish was granted. He died in his living room on the morning of October 29th.

At the end of the long, challenging, and very full days of providing end of life care for my Dad, I would write, connecting with family and friends via e-mail. As I wrote, I cried. I didn't just cry. I wept. My laptop became my wailing wall. I can still see the salty tear-stains on my keyboard. I can't erase them. Not just yet.

Most of my story was shared in the form of e-mails. I was sending and receiving messages from near and far. Through writing, I was reconnecting with family and friends some of whom I hadn't spoken to for many years, friends of mine, friends of my parents, people I had met, people I had never met, people from my childhood. My past, present and future were meeting at the confluence.

My messages kept people up-to-date on my Dad's dying process, and they intimately described what I was experiencing. People in my life were bearing witness to my process and to my pain. Over and over again I was told that my openness was a gift to others and was touching people's hearts. Through writing I felt hopeful and I never felt alone. My heart was cocooned by love.

Above all, I think that I wrote because it opened my heart. Opened it to the pain as well as to the rich, meaningful, poignant experience I was having. My heart was an open book and I kept it open. Just when I thought I couldn't do it anymore, something would happen and my heart would crack open even more. Sharing my story gave me the power to be present to the full and enriching experience of accompanying my Dad to his death.

My Dad was a master storyteller. I think, no I KNOW, that he would be pleased to hear that the apple didn't fall far from the story-telling tree. For the gift of stories, I will be forever grateful to my Dad.

“People sharing stories is almost like a little cocoon. It wraps you in love, protects you from the pain.” cdk

By: Grace