The hardest thing of my life, harder than failed relationships, harder than natural childbirth, harder than my miscarriage, harder than dealing long term with difficult people, harder than toxic people that force themselves into work or relational spheres, harder than the death of my beloved pets, harder than recovering from rape, harder than years of criticism, harder than all that. The hardest thing of my life has been hands down the ugly, long drawn out wasting away through dementia of my daddy. His body is still with me in bedridden wounded and lesser form, his words are hard to come by and labored, his mind comes and goes in dream or present states, he recognizes me but sometimes knows why and sometimes wonders why. The waiting is painful, like a torture for me, daddy’s girl. He has always been my rock, my hero, my strength, my constant supporter, unconditionally loving me, showing me that a man can indeed be faithful to a woman, my mom, against all odds, that a man can put much more emphasis on giving than getting, that eternal things matter much much more than temporal things, that strength of will and stealth of mind matter more than what people ever think anyone is or should be capable of, to fight for those things we hold dear, to believe this country is the absolute best country in the world. This man of such high moral value and such incredible strength of character and body is my daddy. The shell of him wasting away in the nursing home sometimes resembles this man and sometimes resembles a knife being thrust right into my heart. Pain was never so real to me that my whole body aches as what I feel with this waiting game. Visiting as much as I can for those moments where a conversation makes some sense, longing to share my world with him and knowing it is a shadow to him, somewhere in a haze. And it makes me wonder why God is waiting to take him home to heaven. Is there something else I need to do for him? Is there something he hasn’t worked out that I need to help with? Is his will stronger than his body is allowing and he doesn’t want to leave us unprotected? Questions stroll in to try to make sense in my mind of what is killing me to see. It is a mental torture to see someone you love so much in a trailing off, descending state. Physical torture would be easier to bear. That I could overcome with my mind. But this mental torture involves my mind which is too distracted to help much of the time. So I wait. I visit. I take the kids to visit. I sneak in his favorite treats. I love this man that reminds me of my daddy. I celebrate good days. I cry bad days, like today was. It hits me hard every time, a reminder of what is gone forever but still hanging on somewhere on the way out. I smile for people so they don’t worry about me. I laugh. I don’t want other people to hurt over my pain. But writing it here expresses it so it doesn’t keep eating me. Maybe someone else needs to cry. I will cry with you. I am crying with you. I am waiting ugly with you. You are not alone. I have to remember I am not alone. Feels like it though. God helps those who mourn. I attest to that. It’s true. So I am not alone. Neither are you.