Thursday February 11th 2010, 9:02 pm
Filed under: Love Letters

To my father’s daughter in-law,

One year ago my father was diagnosed with colon cancer. Three months later he underwent a surgical procedure to remove the cancerous part of his lower intestine, which left untreated could have killed him in a matter of months. At the stale age of 73 a procedure like that became a statistical hypothesis, a guessing game where one gambles on the longevity of one’s time on this planet as a living organism. After disturbing complications from his surgery, he was released from the hospital in good spirits, only to find out the cancer had spread to his lymph-nodes, sending him back to the cancer specialists for six grueling months of chemotherapy.  And though his spirits stayed resilient, most likely due to the fact he’s as stubborn not to die as he is stubborn not to show his emotional weaknesses, he had many more months of recovery. During this period, I visited him on several occasions in hopes to open up an emotional and connected bond with him in ways never available to me during my childhood. I came to find out he was just as guarded, if not more now then when I was a child, with his emotional and clandestine secrets. His reticent and guarded thoughts were admirable– I could never withhold my heart like him, as I wear my heart on my sleeve for the world to pierce, poke and prod. Even though there was no “ah-ha” breakthrough moments to gloat about in our recent sessions together, I take pride and pleasure in the experience of his presence. It’s like two fingers touching without words,  Michaelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam” incarnate, only fleeting moments of “this is” and the connection of a human’s understudying to the touch of god. His health seemed to slowly regenerate, however with occasional hic-ups expected from such a traumatizing experience. ((Fast forward to the present)) Exactly one year after his first cancerous diagnosis, Dad’s now been in the emergency room for over a week. What started as a routine colonoscopy turned into something disconcerting and dire. After his mandatory bowel cleansing before a camera/tube was shoved in his anus, my father tried eating what was to be, hitherto his check-up, a solid meal. Something happened to his bowels and his small-intestine decided it no longer wanted to pass food through its opening. His body’s reaction was to violently vomit the ingested food, as it had nowhere else to go. Obviously this was a major concern for his doctors. If the body can not digest food, the body can not survive. The “specialist doctors”, or “body mechanics”, attempted another CT scan of his intestinal tract. However, if the body stops digesting food it also stops digesting CT dye, which is necessary to perform an accurate x-ray of the digestive tract. This becomes another troubling perplexity for the doctors. At my father’s age and with his history of complicated recuperation from these invasive procedures, the last option a doctor considers is opening the patient up again. Their best bet and their most educated guess was to stick tubes down his throat and vacuum his intestinal acids while slowly pumping bursts of air onto the small intestine’s opening in hopes of dislodging whatever was blocking his passageway. At this time, my father had not had a bowel movement nor had he passed any gas since his admission to the hospital. With his stomach distended like a starving 3rd world child and with no time to waste, he underwent this mechanical “suck-and-blow procedure” for three days. Twenty-four hours later, he passed a bit of gas, giving hopes that the procedure was helping move along whatever it was that was causing the blockage. In an optimistic decision the doctors removed the tubes and attempted to feed him solids like soup and jello. He immediately dejected the “food”, alluding to the theory that this was more than just a minor blockage in his intestine. After two days of attempting to unblock this unknown mass the doctors reconvened to discuss their next option. ((Breaking News)) I  just received a call from my mother telling me they are preparing to operate on him in the morning. Their best guess is the removal of scar tissue resulting from the original invasive surgery. My worse fear is that the cancer has moved from his large intestine to his small intestine, causing significant closure of his bowels. I’ve been in contact with him in this past week and his spirits continue to be at an all time high; however it is my suspicion his optimism is the same facade he’s known for during these understandably undesirable times. It is my hope he is currently without pain and suffering. I hope his blood pressure is low and his spirits are high. It is my hope he walks out of the hospital with a smile on his face and with the confidence of a man who knows he will live to be 103 years old and who isn’t ready to retire to the next realm. But these are MY hopes. I’m not done making this beautiful creature laugh; I’m not done surprising him. Even though I’m 3,000 miles away from his body, I feel more connected to him tonight than I ever have. He is the one who taught me to be man and how to make honest connections in life. I suppose after he passes, so too shall my commitment to the idea of manhood. I will be left in a non-definitive  world of pure existence. But until that time, he’s still my dad; he’s still the one I look towards finding peace in his mistakes. After all, like Father, like Son.

-The concerned son

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