My Cancer-Ridden Dad Wanted To Kill Himself — But I Wouldn't Let Him

True love can be vicious.

My Cancer-Ridden Dad Wanted To Kill Himself — But I Wouldn't Let Him Sam Wordley / Shutterstock

True love can be violent. 

And just a few years ago, I had no choice but to become the most uninhibited, unconditional expression of viciously violent love.

My dad decided to stop eating. He wanted to die. Because he was dying

But since we've all heard of cancer patients who have experienced spontaneous remissions, I sure as hell wasn't going to let him squander a chance for a miracle. 

Even if it was only a one in a million shot. Or billion. 


Of course, I understood why he was giving up, and the truth is, I may have done the same. 

Then why did I disallow it? Because he would have done the same for me. We had each other's back. Until death do us part.

And no one, not even him, was going to talk me out of leaving my wingman.

He was an extremely strong-willed man, and was used to being in control and getting his way. No friend or family member could convince him to take even a bite of anything.

From a hospital bed, with very limited ability to move, he was certainly still in control.

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I asked him kindly to please eat. He refused. I asked him again, but this time, to just do it for me. He still refused.

Vicious, violent love was our only option.

I lunged at his chest and grabbed the lapels of his bathrobe like I was about to destroy a guy in a bar fight. 

With one explosive hoist, I lifted his upper body off of the bed so we were eye-to-eye with me barely hinging at the hips.

With a controlled, raised voice I said, "You're going to eat. And you're going to do it. Now. And I swear to God if you don't,

I'll throw you to the floor and if anyone tries to help you, regardless who they are, they'll end up in this rehab center."

He tried to say something but I talked right over him. "This isn't a debate. You're eating."


We just looked at each other and breathed for a moment in silence. He knew this wasn't a toothless threat and he nodded in agreement. 

I let go of his robe and his head smacked against the pillow.

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I should have been more gentle about it but like Elvis, my gentleness had left the building and my heart was pumping with the toughest of love. 

Within a second, he was feeding himself applesauce.

Before I went home for my daily two hours of sleep, I rested my head on his chest and gave him a good hug. 

I told him I loved him, and that I was sorry. He kissed the top of my head. 


I cried all the way to the car.


And now I'm going to tell you something that I'm really not supposed to: the birthday wish I've been making every year since.


Right before I blow out the candles, I close my eyes and wish that I never, ever have to be that way again.

I wish no one will ever have to be that way for me.

And I wish the same for you. 

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Gabe Berman is the author of "Live Like A Fruit Fly: The Secret You Already Know, Love Looks Like This, Where Is God When Our Loved Ones Get Sick?, and The Complete BS Free and Totally Tested Writing Guide."