A very Moffitt Christmas

My dad, who has been battling cancer for the last four years or so, suffered a seizure the other night from which the brain-melting side effects will not let up. Instead of starting a new drug trial yesterday, like he was scheduled to, he was shown to a hospital bed and put through a series of tests and scans. Thus, our family’s Christmas will be spent in a tiny, sterile room at Moffitt Cancer Center.

Aside from these occasional epileptic episodes and a few trips a week to the treatment center, my dad’s illness is not extremely present. It’s easy to forget he’s sick. So, when things like this happen — when my dad space’s out in the middle of the Chinese gift exchange at our family Christmas party and consequentially ends up hospitalized — I tend to freak out.

Not once have I accompanied my dad to Moffitt for treatment. He hasn’t had to spend much time in the hospital, but the one time I visited him, I lost it. Instant anxiety attack. Seeing him in that atmosphere, with a IV and who knows what else hooked up to him, makes it too real for me. When I see him like that, his cancer is present and the reality of one day losing my dad to his illness sinks in.

If tomorrow was any other day, I’d continue avoiding the reality. But tomorrow is Christmas, and since I I’ve never been one for religion, Christmas to me is about celebrating those I love. So tomorrow, I will be there with my dad.

But back to religion, times like these also make me reconsider my choice to not identify. When I find myself crying in the shower, praying for my dad to come home, it feels natural — reflexive almost. But it also feels dirty and hypocritical to ask a “God” that I don’t usually believe in to solve my problems. I can understand why so many people turn to faith in times of need and despair. It makes us feel less helpless in desperate situations. While we may not be able to do anything here on Earth but sit, wait and text mom for updates, the thought of a higher power swooping in to save the day is comforting. I’m not about to kneel down in at chapel pew, but for now, I’m willing to accept that comfort.

If my dad doesn’t get to come home tomorrow, we may be lugging his new sound system through the hospital for him to open. Really, just having the ability to do that, with Moffitt being but a twenty-minute drive from home, is a gift. Well wishes and positive thoughts are appreciated. Thanks to everyone who has already been supporting my family. Merry Christmas.

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