I just finished off a box of Mexican wedding cookies.
Really good Mexican wedding cookies.
You know, the ones made with lard.
It wasn’t until I was shoving the last powdery bite into my mouth that I realized it wasn’t cookies that I wanted.
It was resolve.
Last week I asked myself a question I have never had to ask before:
Should I pack a black dress?
The part of my brain that likes things in neat, little boxes promptly answered, “YES.” And since I rarely listen to the other part of my brain (the part that tolerates ambiguity), I packed two black dresses.
Why all this packing? Earlier that day my sister had called to inform me that Daddy had said he was tired of fighting cancer and wanted to see all of his family as soon as possible.
Such news created in me an unanticipated wave of emotions. I say “unanticipated” because even though I love my Daddy, we are not close. I met him for the first time when I was 9 years old, saw him a few times during high school and college, and only since his diagnosis in 2006 have I been more proactive about developing a relationship with him. Therefore, my initial feeling to such news was, dare I say it, relief. Daddy has been in so much pain and on so much medication that I am amazed he has been able to endure these past six years. If he were to pass, then all of his suffering would disappear. Right?
On the drive to Arizona, however, I began to feel worrisome. What if Daddy died before we got there?
However, when we arrived in Arizona and learned he had undergone more chemo to prolong him a few more weeks, I felt confused. Why would Daddy want to continue living this quality of life?
And on our last day in Arizona, while watching Daddy sleep, I felt guilty because I struggled to find something to say. In the end, all I could do was ask, “Are you scared of dying?” Daddy stirred, and said no. He also said he wasn’t ready to die. Looking at his wasted figure and pale skin, I began to feel confused all over again, but decided to let the tiny part of my brain that tolerates ambiguity take over instead.
For some reason, I can accept all of the chaos involved in a life entering this world. I have watched many a friend and family member endure a due date come and gone, sleepless nights, false contractions, rushing around and dropping everything and heading to the hospital, long and arduous labor, searing pain and endless screaming before finally experiencing the delivery.
Why should a life exiting this world be any less chaotic?
Despite the roller coaster ride of emotions, our trip to see Daddy was a positive one. I got to see family I haven’t seen in years, and we all laughed more than we cried. There were no words left unsaid, no embrace withheld, no bitter tears.
Why, then, do I feel so displaced?
Why is my head all foggy?
Why do I feel so unresolved?
And who ate all my cookies?