I guess you know it’s bad when you get the call that your dad was approved for hospice and you cry for joy.

Quickly, for those of you who know me personally – yes, Danny (my dad) was approved for hospice, and no, it’s not the “he’s dying” kind of hospice. It’s the “he’s in constant screaming and crying pain” kind of hospice. Palliative care.

And yes, I did cry for joy.

The process has taken weeks and has been a rollercoaster of “of course he’ll get approved…” “no, he’s not approved…” “of course he’ll get approved…” “no he’s not approved…”

It’s been painful. Not quite as painful as maybe what he is experiencing. But painful nonetheless.

Because when I see him, he is literally, again, crying and screaming in pain. The left side of his body, which was paralyzed with his stroke, keeps spasming. Pretty much nonstop. And when it spasms, he is in pain. And he’s so afraid of the pain, that he’s tensing his body anyway. Pretty much nonstop.

So, yes, I did cry for joy.

It’s not the only craziness. Or hardness.

He’s also going through a period of guilt for how he parented us. When I see him, and he’s not screaming and crying in pain, he says, “I feel so guilty. That’s all I think about. It wasn’t all bad, was it?” Pretty much nonstop.

So, I spend my time there stroking his greasy hair – I’ve convinced the nursing home not to bathe him “unnecessarily” while he’s in screaming and crying pain – offering, “No Dan. It wasn’t all bad.”

In fact, the last time I saw him, I was with my younger child. Danny kept talking about a picture my brother drew when he was a kid. “He drew it the first time he got high,” Danny declared.

I turned to my child and explained, “Papa said that Uncle drew that picture the first time Papa got Uncle high. When Uncle was ten.” And then turned back to stroking Danny’s greasy hair, again offering, “No Dan. It wasn’t all bad.”

When we left, my child turned to me and laughed. “It wasn’t all bad. I mean, I got my kid high when he was ten, but it wasn’t all bad.” We laughed together.

And such it is…

I know I’m blessed to be able to hold the dualities – the dualities that are true and that I need to hold in order to love and care for Danny. I know I’m blessed that I can visit him and that we’ve had some closer, more loving times since his stroke all those years ago, even though it’s hard. And I know I’m blessed that he got approved for palliative hospice care and that he’s hopefully out of constant pain.

I’ll find out if that’s the case when I go see him this afternoon.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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