Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Book Review: Fathers Aren't Supposed to Die

I just finished reading T.M. Shine's book Fathers Aren't Supposed to Die. It's the story of his father's struggle with a subdural brain hematoma (bleeding on the brain) and his ultimate death. Through the process, T.M. and his four brothers gather at the hospital to spend their dad's last days together.

I picked this book up thinking it would be a good story about the struggles that siblings go through when faced with their father's death. I ended up with a surprise when the story of their dad's struggles ended up very similar to my own. While my dad had lung cancer, what ultimately caused his problems in the end was bleeding on the brain caused by the metastasis to his brain. As I read about their interactions with their dad, it mirrored vivid memories of my own:

  • His tightly squeezing hand and the uncertainty of whether it was really him squeezing or just a reflex
  • The desperate searching for any kind of recognition or communication
  • The horrible seizures
  • Camping out in the ICU
  • The good nurses and the not-so-good ones
  • The point of realizing he's in pain, there's nothing that can be done, and it's only a matter of time
While it was extremely hard to read this book at times, it was also somewhat healing. I was faced with all the ick and grime of what happened in the form of a story about someone I don't know. It was personal, without being too personal. Someone had gone through some of the same things that I did. Things that I thought were unique to us happened to this other family also. Someone else has been there and actually had it rougher than us. I won't say how it was rougher, that would give away some of the impact of the story; but it's definitely worth reading.