Now that I’ve been able to give you all the details regarding Dad’s cancer diagnosis, I can give you some insight to my own personal feelings and emotions during this time. I say “some” because I’m not sure if I even know or understand the emotions I’ve been going through. I’m obviously still grieving. I still miss him. And I still think of him multiple times a day. The Numeros talk about Grandpa all the time. It makes me smile that he made an impact on their life in the short time that they got to know him. But it also makes me break down crying most times. Knowing that they’re hurting too. SO MANY emotions I tell ya!
First things first. I have an introduction for you all…..Chad! Chad is the Pope, the Prodigal Son, the sun rises and sets with Chad. [insert eye-roll] HA! Chad is also my brother. I don’t blame anyone for thinking so highly of him. He is a good man. A good son, husband, father, brother, friend, nephew, uncle. Just an all around good person. He truly is someone to look up to. That being said, he being Dad’s POA (Power of Attorney) was a given. We really didn’t even have a discussion about it. It was more of a 2 second statement saying, “Chad should be POA”. We all just knew he was meant to do it. I trusted, and still trust that he would do right by Dad and knew what Dad would want. Going through what we have been through the past few months, I can honestly say that being someone’s POA has to be one of the most difficult tasks anyone could take on. Not only did Chad have to deal with his own emotions and grieve, but he also had to be in the right state of mind to make life altering decisions for Dad. He has taken it all with stride and makes it look easy. When you lose someone like a parent, sibling, or spouse, you don’t think about all the legalities that go along with death. You’ve just lost a significant loved one in your life. Legal jargon is the last thing you want to deal with, but let me tell you. The law could give two cahoots about your grief. I’ll spare you the details on all that, but since I have a background in finance, HR, and management, I took the role of “Secretary”. Dad would refer to me as his “Coordinator” when I was in charge of his appointments and schedule. Being organized, things being scheduled, checking tasks off my “to-do” list is what I know. My taking on that secretarial role was what I needed. (As if I wasn’t busy enough at home? HA! It’s only taken me 5 months to get this 3 piece blog series out here. EY! Busy is an understatement.) Not only has it kept my mind busy, but it was important to me that I helped Chad. No matter how big or small the task, I needed to help.
All while keeping my own mind busy, I was worrying about my numeros and husband. Nick took Dad’s death hard. As did numero Uno and Dos. I mentioned in PART 1 of this series that Nick and Dad had a relationship when Dad and I didn’t. Nick has been getting to know Dad for the past 8 years. They built a father/son bond on their own, without me even being included. That goes to show how much they were meant to be in each other’s lives. We lost Nick’s Grandfather to Cancer in 2018 less than a year before we lost Dad. It was also a surprise to us, and happened very fast. Just like Dad. Our family of 5 got hit with very significant losses so close together. You can imagine that it hasn’t been easy on any of us. I’ve always been one to handle loss on my own. Without any help from anyone but myself. Before I started writing and this here Blog, I was a very closed off, unemotional person. Nobody knew what I was going through, what I was dealing with inside, what I was feeling, nothing. I always believed that showing emotion meant I was showing my weaknesses. That was stupid! We all have weaknesses. And I’m finally at a point in life where I’m okay exposing my weaknesses. I’m sure you’ll get to know them all after reading my blog posts! All that being said, I was being a total hypocrite when it came down to my numeros. Here I am telling them to come to me with their thoughts and feelings yet I’m over here just stone cold Steve Austin. Throughout the past year I’ve been able to open up with them more. To show them it is in fact okay to feel. I make sure to bring Grandpa and Papoo (Nick’s Grandfather) up pretty often. So they know we can talk about them and remember them together. There’s no science behind my theory, but it makes sense in my head so I’m going with it!
Dad’s first love was riding. All the Harleys of his past, and present were his main squeeze! Motorcycles were a significant part of my childhood. The sound of a bike, the look of a Harley, the feeling of being free when you’re riding. It was all something I grew up with, but it went away when Dad and I had our falling out. I still goose necked at every bike that went by, checking to see if it was Dad during those 11 years. He and Nick had bonded over bikes a few years ago. Dad even went to the DMV to grab Nick the IL Motorcyclists handbook so he could go take the driving test and get his license. Again, all whilst Dad and I were not talking. So once we reconnected, Nick getting a bike was a hot topic. Dad would tell me, “Your husband deserves a bike, Cass. Look how hard he works for you. Let the man get a bike!”. It wasn’t me not “letting” him get a bike, it honestly just wasn’t something I was ready for. Like I said, I grew up with bikes, then they were gone for 11 years. Having a bike in our garage would be an adjustment. I was afraid it’d bring up past emotions about mine and Dad’s falling out. Not to mention all the numb nuts on the road surrounding my husband. In those last few days that Dad was coherent, he was adamat on Nick riding with Chad when he was gone. A literal dying wish was that Nick got a bike and rode with his son. Two of his sons riding together is what he was worried about on his death bed. Told you, Dad’s first love was riding! I’m 100% convinced that being able to ride like Dad did, has helped Nick get through all of this. He jumps on that bike every chance he gets. And my fears of it bringing up old emotions, I couldn’t have been more wrong. It was startling to walk in the garage to see a Harley parked in there, but now that I see how much it means to Nick to ride with Dad in spirit, that damn bike puts a smile on my face every time I look at it. Gilly (the said bike) has also brought Nick and Chad closer. They’ve always had an amazing relationship because they share a lot of common interests but being able to ride together has been good for both of them.
I would love to tell you all that I’m “okay”. But that would be a lie. I’m still grieving. I’m still hurting inside. I still cry a lot. My numeros are still hurting. Nick is still dealing with it in his own way. My brothers and sister are all figuring out ways to get through it all. In my eyes, loss is the most difficult thing we go through as human beings. I don’t have a strong religious background, but I do believe that someone higher up does throw things like loss at us to make us stronger. That is exactly what my family and I will continue to focus on. Healing, becoming stronger than ever as a family, and remembering those memories we had with Dad.