By Nikole Ventrca
Gone too soon.
It seems like it was yesterday.
My dad called and said he had emphysema, I began to cry and he replied “everything is going to be fine.” The next couple of weeks he went through a few tests and it was confirmed that he had lung cancer. I was devastated!
Immediately thoughts started going through my mind – “Please lord, let my dad make it to see my daughter be born”, “He’s too young, there are several milestones he still needs to see”, “I can’t imagine life without him”. We might not have seen each other that often, but from that moment on I called my dad every single day.
The next year my dad did not work and it was great seeing him more often then I ever had before. He got to watch my daughter be born and share in the joys of watching her grow to be an amazing 1 year old. My son turned 4 a few months before he passed away, and he is lucky enough to remember my dad for the gentle and fun-loving man he was.
My dad turned 60 November 7, 2008 and my sister and I planned a party to celebrate. There were friends and family there and he seemed to be in good spirits except a little tired. A week went by and it was my son’s 4th birthday. My dad was too tired to come to the birthday party. He was the type of grandparent that didn’t miss an event, but a 4 year old party was just too much for him. Thanksgiving came up shortly after the birthday party, and my sister had Thanksgiving dinner at her house. I remember my niece texted me to see where I was because dad kept asking when we would be there. We arrived to my sister’s within the next 15 minutes and my dad didn’t stay long after that. This was the moment I knew my dad didn’t have much longer to be with us. This entire month he was more tired then usual.
December came quickly after the busy November. It was decided that we would have the entire family together for Christmas this year. A week or so before Christmas, everyone got together and brought a dish for Christmas dinner and the kids exchanged presents. Dad’s good friend came and took group pictures to celebrate this merry occasion. Christmas Day came and my sister’s family and my family had a quiet evening at my dad’s house. He seemed to be upbeat and in a good mood. Little did we know, he had a hard time breathing that morning but didn’t want to let us see he was in a lot of pain.
The next month would be the hardest month of my life.
January 2009 my dad was bed ridden and could only walk from the bed to the bathroom. We went through ups and downs that month and saw my dad deteriorate before our eyes, something I pray my children never have to witness. The family decided we did not want strangers in the house taking care of dad in his last days, so we created a calendar and rotated so someone was with him 24 hours a day. January 30, 2009 my sister and I were both there visiting with dad. He was only sleeping that day, but we talked and laughed right beside him remembering the good times. When we were headed home for the evening we told him we both loved him very much and would see him in the morning, he squeezed our hands to let us know he could hear us.
January 31, 2009 1:00 a.m I received a call from my aunt, “He has left to be with the Lord.” I cried but not because I missed him, but because he was no longer in pain. I was happy he didn’t have to suffer any longer.
I immediately knew that I wanted to help find a lung cancer CURE. I went to the internet and typed in lung cancer events in Dallas, TX and found DFW Walk for LUNGevity, now known as Breathe Deep DFW. From that moment on, I have been a volunteer for this amazing event. My dad might not be here to see the day that lung cancer is CURED, but I HOPE my family and myself get to see lifesaving research find a CURE.
My dad told me several times that month that he was ready to go to heaven. I know that my dad is up in heaven making jokes and hanging out with Elvis and the Beatles.
“Walk on, walk on with a hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never, ever walk alone”
- Elvis Presley
Life is fragile, be thankful for your blessings everyday.
Hug and kiss the ones you love and don’t be afraid to tell them you love them.