Their father is dying, 6000 miles away.
September 15, 2012 2:33 PM Subscribe
My partner's father is in the early stages of death. They are in the Midwest. I'm in the Middle East. Snowflakes.
He (the father): was diagnosed with a rare cancer 5 years ago. It has progressed slowly, but he's begun to drop weight, treatment options are dwindling, and they just found malignant cells in a new location. He is in his mid 50's, and is a wonderful, incredible man. The world is losing a great soul. I'm not sure how much time he has left, but my intuition says a year at most, perhaps less.
We: have been together about a year. I am 20, they (gender-neutral pronoun) are 24. I met the parents in April, and we've visited a couple times since then. The parents have told me they love me, I love them, I'm part of the family. My partner spent time with my family in June, and they love each other also. We lived together May-August in a room just large enough for a bed, and came out of it more in love than ever. In short, we think of our relationship as long-term, committed, with a lot of potential.
I know that we are young, especially me, and we both attempt to maintain a balance of presence in our current feelings, and realism about the changes that await each of us as our lives progress, and the ways that that may or may not impact our relationship. And for all the realism I have about the futures that might await us, I am in love, this person is extremely important to me, and that means that I ought to support them in every way that I can. In addition, if we do stay together, I want to have known their father as much as possible.
I am in school in Cairo until mid December. I had planned to spend an additional semester living here (as a break from school) to further develop my language skills outside the classroom, and to get some experience living alone internationally. My partner moved home to the Midwest the day after I moved, to support their family. We had thought they might spend the spring in the Middle East (they lived here before), but that's obviously no longer an option.
As it turns out, it is really really hard to watch your father die. I spend a fair amount of time on phone and skype doing support. I don't feel like I'm removed from my environment, but the situation hovers in the back of my head constantly. I want to be there with them and their family, offering support in whatever way I can. I also want to be here, having the experience of a lifetime, and worry that the mingled feelings of deep love and loyalty will allow me to neglect my own interests in this situation -- I am doing very well at an elite school, studying Arabic, thinking about the future, with my partner or without.
I've committed to spending time in the Midwest with them after school ends in December. This would likely be 2-3 weeks in length, living in the family's basement. After that, under the current plan, I would return to Egypt. I don't know what sort of condition their father will be in come December. It could easily be grim. I pray it won't be.
What does one do in this situation? I have considered: moving to the Midwest for next semester and working at a coffee shop; moving back to the states and returning to college, so that I could at least be in flying distance; delaying my return to Cairo (spending a month or two in the Midwest) to see what happens. And beyond the tachlis, how do I support my boo and their incredible family?
tl;dr: How can I best support my long-distance partner whose father is beginning to die?