It's weird, when something feels so distant and so close at the same time. All my memories spanning that 2 year space when my dad was sick feel fresh and recent, but when I really think about it, it's so far away. A lot of dualities and mixed feelings swirl around when I think about the experience- both about my dad and about myself. I feel like a lot of my self was defined during that period, a lot of my relationships with family and friends were defined during that period.
I don't think I can ever really know myself or that I'll ever stop changing, but I think the experience helped me reflect and consider my self as so much more than just a selfish, self-absorbed, self-serving person. I'm a daughter, a sister, a pretty good impromptu nurse. I'm both incredibly patient sometimes and irritatingly impatient other times. I can handle a lot more than I thought I ever could and I can be strong for myself and for others if the need arises. I'm a human being full of emotion and conflicting layers and I will spend my lifetime always learning something new about myself.
There are things I regret- not asking more questions about my dad's life, career, family. Being impatient. Being short. Being a sad sack and not trying to make the last year or so of my dad's life more enjoyable and light hearted than it was.
There are things I'm so appreciative of- that I could be there to take care of my dad and my mom, that we had the best doctors and nurses and hospital staff taking care of us, that despite the gravity of the situation it brought me closer to my mom than ever.
I would not be the person I am now without my dad, without the experience of being my dad's caretaker, without the experience of dealing with the aftermath of a close death. It was an experience I wouldn't wish upon anyone, one that was incredibly difficult, but one that despite being negative has had a great positive impact for me.
As a final note, a picture of my dad and me in our backyard (where my family still lives!).