I haven't written about my dad for a while.
Not because I haven't been thinking of he and my mom day and night, but because I don't always know what to say.
People are constantly asking about him - especially our friends from out of town.
"How's Erin's dad doing?", "How's JB?", "Is John doing ok?". They ask as a courtesy, but I don't really think they want to hear anything but "he's doing ok" or "he's about the same".
But...this isn't the case. He isn't doing ok, and he's NOT about the same.
He's getting worse.
Every day we're reminded of this inescapable disease that's slowly taking him away from us. Some days the signs are more subtle than others, but they're there.
The other day my dad was listening to a voice mail that some friends had left on his cell phone. During the course of the 30 second message, my dad got confused, thought he was on the phone with live people, and began talking back to the voices on the recording. My mom had to remind him that it was a message - that he needed to call back if he wanted to talk to his friends.
This broke my heart. Never in my wildest dreams did I think we'd ever have to explain the difference between a voice mail and an actual person to my dad. But, we did.
Now, this is just one example of the clues we're being given as to how he's doing.
Stories like this seem to be the milestones that we count on as a gauge for how JB is doing. This phone fiasco will be the example that we give our close friends and family in the coming days and weeks when they politely ask about him. It will be our "see, this is what we're dealing with" until he stumbles over something new. Then, somehow, being confused by the voice mail will seem like ancient history and our new standard for "normal" will be a new, embarrassing, entirely depressing story about how something that most of us take for granted completely threw my dad for a loop.
But, despite not feeling like anyone truly understands what any of us is going through...it actually does help to have people ask. Even if they don't "get it". Even if they can never really grasp what we're dealing with. Even if all they want to hear is "he's doing fine".
The asking helps.