Good night, Happy Dreams, God Bless You, I Love You

Writing has always been therapeutic for me, so not having the words—or not wanting to say the words out loud—feels very strange. Maybe I just need to rip off the band-aid and get it out there. Perhaps I need to stop thinking about it and stop repeating the words over and over in my head, and just let them explode from my mouth and fingers.

My dad is dying of pancreatic cancer.*

family picture

We were hopeful at the beginning—less than a month ago, actually—thinking that maybe he got “lucky” and his Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma came back. We were hoping for that (can you imagine actually hoping for a particular kind of cancer?), because we knew how to treat it. We were hoping for that, because out of all the cancers, NHL is one of the “good” ones to get, because it’s so treatable.

Our hope quickly diminished once results came in; results showing cancer lighting up and revealing that it’s spread throughout his gut. Liver cancer and stage four pancreatic cancer. Speaking of the gut, my gut told me—no, my gut begged me—to stay off Dr. Google and to not look up pancreatic cancer, but I didn’t listen. Instead my fingers danced over the keys and typed in “stage 4 pancreatic cancer.”

Even with the answers staring me in the face, I just couldn’t believe it. My dad has an incurable cancer, and the Internet told me he, at most, had less than 4 months to live.

Well, here I am today, just 48 hours after I returned from seeing him in his hospital room, about to make the 12-hour drive back home. Yesterday we made the decision to move him into hospice. The doctors and my family all discussed his options, and the truth is, there really isn’t anything else they can do for him. The cancer just keeps spreading its horrible disease despite rounds of chemo, and he’s in so much pain. In hospice they can make him comfortable, and family and friends can all come around to visit with him one last time.

One last time.

It doesn’t even seem real. Just a month ago he was sitting next to me on the very couch where I sit and type now. One month ago he was telling my 18-month old to give him smiles, and she’d look up at him and flash him a toothy grin. One month ago I was deciding what to make for his birthday—banana cream pie trifle—and watching as he ruckled Julia’s back. To see how quickly this cancer has aggressively attacked his body is simply astonishing.

So I’m going back home today. Home, where our family and friends can rally around us, and offer huge bear hugs while we do the ugliest of ugly cries. Home, where I can love on my Papa as long as he’ll let us; home, where I can be by my mom’s side and let my brother envelop me in an embrace; home, where we can let him know that it’s okay to leave us, and that we will—somehow—be okay without him. And home, where I’ll whisper our phrase since I was a little girl, “Goodnight, happy dreams, God bless you, I love you,” one last time.

*UPDATE: My dad actually passed away about five hours after I published this post. I didn’t make it home in time to see him one last time before he passed away; I was just outside of Phoenix, about six hours still to go, when I got the phone call.





  1. My heart breaks for your guys. Pancreatic cancer is the angry bitch of cancers, as I’ve heard time and time again when it creeps up and invades life among family friends. I pray you guys are able to enjoy your time with him, as somber as it may feel. If you need a listening ear, you know where to find me. Travel safe and hugs to you all. ?

  2. I am so so sorry to read this. I will be praying for you and your family right now. One of my girlfriends just lost her mother to colon cancer and as we put it – f*ck you cancer. Sending much love to you and your family.

  3. I’m crying for you. I know there’s nothing I can say to make this easier. Just know that there are people who are thinking of you and your family during this difficult time.

  4. My heart breaks for you Jess. I’m glad your dad knows he’s so loved and you know how much he loves you. I hope Gid can give you the strength you need to get through this. Hugs to you!

  5. I’m so sorry to read this. Losing a parent is the toughest thing in the world. I (unexpectedly) lost my dad 10 years ago, and while it does get easier to deal with, not a day passes where I don’t think of him or want to call him to tell him something… still. Ten years later. I’m glad you’ll be able to be with family during this time – that will be really important. Hang in there!

  6. I’ve been following your blog but I’ve not really left any comments before. Girl, I am so sorry to hear this; I am heartbroken for you and your family – I have also lost a beloved uncle to cancer and oh… There’s nothing I can say – enjoy every last minute but always look forward… Big hugs and lots of love and prayers to you and your family..

  7. I am so, so sorry. I cannot imagine what you’re going through. Sending positive thoughts and prayers to you and you family.

  8. Oh Jessica, I can’t imagine what you’re experiencing, but please know I’ll be praying for you in the coming weeks and months.

  9. Hi, Jess. I’m not sure if you remember me, but we grew up together at Sangre de Cristo going through CCD together, etc. Somehow your post popped up on my Facebook feed and although we haven’t spoken in years I felt compelled to reach out to you. I am so heartbroken for you and your family, I remember your dad (and mom) fondly from singing on Sundays and just growing up in the church. I’m sure your family has everything under control…. but I felt the need to reach out to you because my husband is a Hospice Care Consultant with Hospice Compassas.. If you need anything at all please let me know, or 505-615-0591. I’d be happy to get you in touch with him. I know what a trying and emotional time this is for you and I pray for peace for you and your family. I’m so sorry you all are going through this. <3

  10. I am so, so sorry to hear this, Jessica. My heart is breaking for you and your family. I am praying for peace for all of you, as well as easy travel for you and the girls. I saw you asked on IG about what to do with the dog while traveling, but since I have no clue how to comment there, I’ll comment here and say that I did the same thing over Christmas (traveling to my parents’ house) while Steve was deployed and I actually wore Depends. 😉 They are incredibly discreet (and comfy! I hate that I know this!) and I didn’t have to “use” them. I didn’t drink anything and I didn’t eat much either (it was about an 8 hour drive). I stopped to change the kids’ diapers and that was it. It’s so hard traveling solo with little kids and pets! Praying it all goes smoothly!!!

  11. I’m so sorry. I’ve followed your blog for a few years and have not commented before. I just have to tell you today how sorry I am.

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