William Russell Ries

My father has pancreatic cancer. We learned of it in late November. It had spread to his liver. He started chemo shortly thereafter. Now it has spread to his lungs. He is stopping curative treatment and entering hospice care. My mom texted yesterday that he is weaker by the hour. It feels like we are on the cusp of watching him step out. My husband reminds me that he’s still here (I could call him now!), but I am preparing for his death. Such as one prepares for the death of someone we love.

My dad holding me on his chest in Evanston, IL with Maggie the dog.

We got to see him over Christmas and it was good. He is funny and wise and has led a good life. It felt great to crack jokes with him and to talk about small normal things. There are so many people who love him deeply and their presence and expressions of that love are a comfort. We are not alone in this preemptive grief. It’s still shitty and hard, but it’s not as lonely as it might be.

Shared daily crossword puzzling, here with my husband and mother

I am grateful we get to say good-bye. On our last day in Nashville, I asked my dad if I could sketch him. He said yes and dozed while I worked. It was both comforting and sad to enter into the flow of drawing someone who means so much to me. My sketch ran into one my mom had done the day before of me and my brother sitting on his bed and chatting. I’m grateful for our time together.

My mother’s sketch is visible in the top right corner of my book.
With my brother Russell in our backyard in Nashville.

Please pray for my dad. For his comfort and peace. And for my family, for my mom especially. I love you, Dad. You have been a great father and an outstanding example. Thank you for all you’ve given us and modeled for us.

My dad reading to my daughter.

Author: Katie

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