This Father’s Day was bittersweet. After many years of being in Washington, D.C. during Father’s Day, I’m home with my father. However, the reason I am home is quite devastating. About two weeks ago, I learned that my father was diagnosed with lung cancer. I quickly rushed to Chicago to be by his side as he fights this disease. I never imagined that I would have buried one parent and be the sole caregiver (during this time) for the other at the age of 29.
I’ve jumped head first into the caregiving role—it is exhausting. There is no doubt that I am where I’m supposed to be, but I’d be lying if I said it has been easy. I’ve been here for four days and I’ve been juggle cooking, cleaning, paying his bills, accompanying him to doctor’s appointments, washing clothes, etc. As a person who needs “me time” quite often, I have to take it when I’m able. I definitely enjoy those walks to Target or to the grocery store where I can clear my head or staying up late to write because it’s quiet. It’s hectic but there is no place I’d rather be.
He needed me here and, honestly, I needed to be here. Ironically, his sickness accelerated my return to Chicago (I planned to leave in early-September). It broke me free from the “cycle of misery” that I was living with in D.C. Obviously, I didn’t want to come back under these circumstances, but it was time. I was so miserable. I struggled with depression, battled emotional eating, entered bad/destructive relationships, sought gratification in the wrong areas, cried in random places, etc. I don’t know how to further emphasize that I had been a “hot mess” for quite some time. I tried to hide it as best as I could, but I’ve always been transparent with my feelings so I’m not sure I did a good job.
This journey is not going to be easy—it just began—but I know this is right. This feels right. Living in D.C. no longer felt right. More importantly, I couldn’t imagine him going through treatment alone while I was thousands of miles away. It’s a lonely existence sometimes. I don’t have my network of friends here like I do in D.C. but I keep moving. I need to be there for my father and that is what I’m focusing on these days.
I’m thankful for God for the strength to do this because I’m definitely not able to do this on my own. I pray for patience quite often! I also thank friends who have reached out to me and prayed for me. As I’ve previously stated, it’s hard but even in the midst of this storm I feel peace that I’m doing the right thing. I’m here standing with my father and we’re fighting this together. It’s not a matter of me being a good daughter—it’s a matter of doing what’s right. I don’t know if people assume that I wouldn’t come back to be with him, but in my mind there was no other option.
My father has provided for me, instilled wonderful values in me, taught me the importance of putting God first, pushed me to follow my dreams, set the standard of how men treat me and loved me unconditionally. If I can do take care of him during this time of need then that is only a fraction of what he’s done for me. I know it will never compare but I’m so glad to have this opportunity to be there for him.