“How are you doing?” friends ask with sympathy in their eyes.

I give a standard reply because I don’t even know what I could say that would truly honestly tell them how I’m really doing.

“One day at a time,” they remind me, but somehow that platitude has lost its comfort as I watch him slip further and further away each day that goes by.

Each morning I text him and ask how he’s doing. I get little information. Usually, he just says, “I’m fine.”

Then I ask my mom and she’s beyond sugarcoating things to me to make me feel better.

I get true updates from her.

He ate breakfast. That’s a good day.

He threw up. That’s a bad day.

He can’t walk up the stairs anymore. That’s a sorry turn of events.

He is quiet. That means he’s staring vacantly more than usual.

He’s not feeling well and we’re calling the nurse. That means he’s in pain.

Even the positive update shatters off little pieces of my heart.

The good days are not really good days. In comparison to the way things were even a year ago.

This is my dad. My dad.

The man who ran behind me for miles teaching me to ride my bike.

The man who taught me to swim.

The man who walked me down the aisle.

The man who gently held my babies and smiled because he knew what I was in for once I became a mom.

The man who photographed everything, leaving no memory to chance.

Watching cancer slowly take him is not just painful. It’s excruciating.

RELATED: To Those Who Know the Bitter Hurt of Losing a Parent

I grieve. I’ve been grieving since the diagnosis. Although, then we had hope. 

But hope slowly faded away, and I cling to what is left with a broken heart and an overwhelming sense of panic.

What will my life be like without him? I don’t even like to let my mind wander that way.

Watching cancer take someone you love is an unparalleled pain.

So when I say I’m fine, what I mean is this, “My heart is broken, but I will continue on.”

Because I’m echoing him, that’s what he would want me to do.  And it’s my only choice.

RELATED: My Daddy Was My First Love

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