They call it the “hospice bounce.” It’s a thing that happens when patients enter into hospice care and are in a terminal state. Upon entering hospice care, patients have all of their medications, tubes, and anything else keeping them alive taken away. The first time I learned about it was a few days before Christmas in 2016.
December 23rd marked the one year anniversary of my Dad passing away. As you can imagine, it’s had a huge impact on my entire family – felt hardest over the holiday season. He had been suffering for years and, in some ways, it was a relief to not seem him suffer any further…but it was still one of the toughest things I’ve had to go through in my life.
Over the last few days of my Dad’s life, I was able to experience the hospice bounce first hand. After coming home, he began his morphine treatment in an effort to reduce his pain during the home stretch. Once he was settling, he was able to spend the rest of his time surrounded by his family – something that both he and my Mom wanted more than anything.
On the Wednesday before his passing, I spent almost the entire day by his side. Like every other time we talked, we told stories about the past. Our family growing up – how proud he was of everything I had done in my life – how much he cherished the time he spent watching me play hockey. Most importantly, how proud he was of what I had become as a father.
We talked for hours – occasionally taking a break so he could rest. With every moment and story that passed, the reality of the situation was tougher and tougher for me to bear. I knew that he would want to rest and knew it was time – so I decided that I would say goodbye and go back home.
Spending this day with my father helped in so many ways for me to feel like I had closure and yet, as we looked into each other’s eyes, we both smiled with tears running down our faces because we knew it was the last time. We told each other “I love you” and I kissed him on the forehead and said goodbye for the last time.
Christmas 2016, as you would imagine, was a blur for all of us. Between my Dad passing and everything else going on in my life, things really didn’t feel like they started to settle down until the summer of 2017. Although we’re still grieving in our own ways, my Mom, Sister, and myself all bought houses and started to take the steps towards the next chapters in our lives. Living a happy life and helping his family was the top priority for my Dad and many of the great things that came from 2017 stem from him.
As we wind down the 2017 holiday season, there are many things for which I am grateful. Things were a little less of a blur this year and we were very fortunate to be able to spend time with our family laughing and loving life. I’m excited just to see how much more of this we will experience in 2018. A great relationship, continued success at work, starting new businesses and adventures – all things that I’m thoroughly looking forward to this year.
And, obviously, continuing to develop an amazing relationship with the most important person in my life – soon to be 3 year old Miss Leah Joy.
PS How much time before that whole three-nager thing kicks in?