Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon...I wonder how many people have seen it? How many people have had their breath taken away from the awe, from the amazement they felt when they stepped to the ledge and realized how small they are. Did they even feel small? Did it even take their breath?

When my Daddy accepted that the cancer treatment was not going to cure his cancer he stopped treatment. He was afraid his doctor would push him for the next cure, the next punishment to his body. The doctor did not. The doctor knew the awful truth. So did my Daddy. The doctor said “go do what you want to do, spend time with your family and live”

Live like you are dying...the doctor did not say that exactly, but it is what he meant.

That was November.

Live like you are dying...My Daddy wanted to go the Grand Canyon. Ride a train cross country see the Grand Canyon and throw a rock into it. We thought Christmas break, “Christmas break—we will go then,” we said. “No,” he said “When I feel better. When I feel better, not now.” In his last months, my Daddy said quiet often “When I feel better.” But he never did. There were days that were not as bad—but he never felt better.

That was December.

He had good days and he had bad days, he did not want to be alone. He just needed to be with someone. We did not leave him alone. He just wanted to be.... he just wanted to feel better.

That was January.

Valentine's Day was a pretty good day for my Daddy. He once again was able to help someone out. His assigned Hospice Social Worker had locked her keys in her car. I wasn't there but I can hear him now.... “We will take you home, don't worry about it.”

That was his last good day. In the coming days his condition progressed so quickly it was a blur.

Since then, over the last few weeks I have felt so angry toward that lady that locked her keys in her car. That was my Daddy's last good day. I'm jealous of missing part of it. I'm jealous that it was spent on a stranger—spent on a stranger that should have been professional enough to just call a lock smith. Daddy spent his last good evening running across the county trying to help someone find extra car keys. His last good evening, it should have been spent having dinner with us. It became a rushed evening of frozen pizza and trying to take care of someone else and her kids.

But that was him—that was what he loved to do. Pay it forward—to help when it would have been just as easy to say fiend for yourself. His last good day was spent helping someone else. It was his last deed of kindness. By the next day he was hardly himself, by the next week he was gone. A week that was a blur and he was gone.

That was February.

I fight with myself over how angry that makes me, how angry I am about keys locked in a car. How can I be mad at someone that needed help and mad at someone for lending a hand? Maybe I should not be—but I am. I want it back. I want that night back. I want it back for me. For me. I want it back for all of my completely selfish reasons.

I'm not mad at the lady or her lost keys...that is just where I place some of my anger. I'm mad at Cancer, I'm mad at God, I'm mad at me. I'm mad because my Daddy is not here. I'm mad that there is nothing I could do to stop it. I'm mad because I'm mad. I'm mad because it hurts so much. I'm mad because we never made it to the Grand Canyon. It's what he wanted—and I did not make it happen.

Daddy being gone that takes my breath away, but it is not because of awe or amazement that the Grand Canyon may have brought, I can't breathe because it hurts. AND IT IS NOT FAIR. I want it all back...

There was still so much to do. There were still so many things that might take his breath away that he will never see from this side of heaven. Moments that still may take our breath away and he will not be here to share.

I thought there would be more time, how could there not be more time?

All he wanted was to throw a rock in.

When you are still here, still grieving it is hard to decide what’s next. We blinked our eyes and...

That was March. The March my Daddy knew he would never see.

Now we are in April, spring break is coming up. That was to be our next chance for the Grand Canyon. However, the Grand Canyon without him—I don't think we are ready for that. Do we still go? Do we pack the car drive cross country and stand on the ledge and lose our breath in grief? Do we walk to the ledge and celebrate him? Do I walk to the ledge and sob because I did not make it happen when he was still here? Do we still go?

“When I feel better,” my heart tells me. “When I feel better.” This is a hurt that is hard to think clearly through. Losing someone creates all these new questions. I don't have answers. I can't even find enough reason that there are answers yet. When you are still here grieving it is hard to decide on what’s next—but it is not time for that road trip yet.

Maybe it will be next year. Maybe when my anger has passed. Maybe when I find my own rock to throw in. Maybe when I find some reason of my own…maybe when I don't feel like I'm at the bottom of a grand canyon...maybe then I will feel better.

Sometimes I feel like I'm as close as your shadow
and Sometimes I feel like I'm looking up
at You from the bottom of the Grand Canyon,
so small and so far
From the Grand Canyon, with a hole in my heart
And I'm a long way from where I know I need to be
When there's a Grand Canyon between You and me
When there's a Grand Canyon between You and me
Susan Ashton


  1. I love you, Priscilla. I know you are hurting and a part of you always will in one way or another...but I bet one day..."when you feel better" you WILL go to the Grand Canyon and you will throw a rock in for both of you...and you will remind Gretchen how special "Pop" was. ....she'll throw a rock too! And, I pray that at that moment the canyon will seem much smaller because the Heavens and your Daddy will feel so close they seem to have reached down and touched you.

  2. Big hugs Priscilla! I remember back in the fall when you wanted to take your dad to see the hummingbirds on the mountain and how excited you were to experience that with him. He was so happy just to have those little moments spent with you whether it was here or at the Grand Canyon. One day, when you do get there, he will be there in that moment with you. Love you!!

  3. Baby girl, I am going to offer some advice if i may. I pray you don't get mad at me. For as litle time as i have spent around you i love you dearly. I know what it is to be mad at losing someone. When my brother died, i was mad at God, the world and everyone in it. I sank into depression from the constant anger. This is no way to live. Larry would be ashamed of me knowing how i have been over the last 7 years. I figure you are much smarter than i am, and won't fall into the pit i have. I know you loved your "Pop" so honor him with living and being happy doing it. Living in the anger of the past is a dead end girl and i KNOW for a fact you are better than that. I can see the not so little girl you are raising and see it. I see teh love and devotion in Lee's eyes when he speaks of you. Let the anger go. Take comfort in the knowledge your father's last good day was being himself and that he was happy helping someone in need. Love ya Pris :) PS please don't be mad at me.

  4. I love you Priscilla, and there was never a child loved more by her daddy than you. His love is a big part of the reason you are who you are. He was very proud of his little girl and will always be proud of you.

    He would have loved you blogs. The day you gave him the first one, he called me in to his room and through tier filled smiling eyes asked me to read it.

    I read it aloud and we both sat there and laughed and cried at the loving heart you were sharing with him.

    I think he knew that he had done good, with the soul that God had shared with him, to raise on Earth. He knew that he could rest knowing he had taken care of you in a way that would have been pleasing to God. He loved us all.

    That letter meant a lot to your daddy and I am grateful that you put all that down so that he could know what he had truly meant to you, and that you shared with every one who loved him too.