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  • Writer's picturePaula Ciampini MacDonald

Speechless by Sophie Marie Stock

The definition of speechless is “unable to speak, especially as the temporary result of shock or some strong emotion unable to be expressed in words.” But not to me, my definition of speechless is not wanting to speak as there is too much to say, and there are no words to explain what I'm truly feeling. Why speechless? Well I've been speechless ever since December 11th, 2016. That is the day my Dad, Dean Charles Stock, was diagnosed with ALS. ALS stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and it is a rare neurological disease that weakens the motor neurons/cells we use for walking, talking, swallowing and breathing. To this day there is still no cure for ALS… takes away the best people.

When my Dad was diagnosed with ALS I was 6 years old and I had no worries in the world. I didn’t think anything of it, my only thought was “oh Daddy is sick”, just a mild cold, whatever. Until I started noticing what was happening to him. Of course I had no clue what Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis was but I did know that something was changing, and it was no mild cold. I knew something was wrong when I’d see my Dad run to the bathroom when he’d start choking on his food. Then a few months later when he was helping me make my lunch for school, he was asking if I wanted a wow-butter sandwich (school safe peanut butter). He tried to say the words but he couldn’t get them out, then he would laugh it off and point to the jar instead. I giggled and said, “you mean wow-butter” and we'd just laugh together. Laughter hid a lot of hurt in our house. Shortly after that, he ended up needing a scooter to move around. I loved it because I would always sit on his lap and we’d go for a spin around our neighbourhood. But I will never forget that one day he let me drive while I sat on his lap. I tried to park the scooter but I ended up running us into the fence. At first my Dad got mad but then turned me around, laughed and told me that he’ll never get in a car with me when I'm old enough to drive. It never crossed my mind that he wouldn’t be around long enough to see me turn double digits (10) let alone get my drivers license.

“You never know how long you have with someone, so spend as much time with them as you can”, and that’s exactly what we did. Once Dad moved into the Hudson Palliative Care we would visit him all the time and I’d give him the biggest hugs and kisses. As young as I was, that place absolutely drained me as much as it could for a 7 year old. I was always happy to see him and to see how he was doing. But when we took that turn onto the street leading up to the Palliative Care my heart would sink to my stomach. My eyes would fill with tears and some would roll down my cheek. Once we opened the doors leading to those sad quiet hallways I’d get hit with the smell of cleaning supplies, that scent and memory will never leave my mind. Walking into his room, room # 9, was always difficult but as soon as I saw his huge smile (while he sat in his chair watching Forest Gump), my heart would light up with excitement and I’d run to him. Every hug was different to me, that was because he was getting skinnier and skinnier. That’s when it hit me, my best friend was fading away from me. The feeling of watching your Dad and best friend fade away is unimaginable.

Growing up with both parents is amazing, just a regular happy family… until you end up being a family of 4 not 5 anymore. It turns your world upside down and makes you look at life differently. I was lucky to have a Dad that was so special to so many people. Because of that we had a huge support system especially for when we were grieving. The grieving part was so difficult because I didn’t know what to do. I couldn't even tell you my ways of grieving because all I did was cry and cry.

Now that I'm older (14 yrs old) I’ve really been getting hit hard with what truly happened. I'm old enough to understand the disease and that’s what hurts the most. If I would have understood more when I was little I would've hugged him tighter. Living half my life without him has been difficult but it has made me who I am today. I am still playing sports, I am still sleeping with my blanket he’d cuddle me with, I am still making stupid jokes like I always have and I'm still loving him as much as I did when he was here. My heart still aches everyday but I do believe it gets easier. Some days I wake up puffy eyed because I cried into my pillow all night so no one would hear. Other days I just think about how happy Dad made people and that’s what keeps me going. I’m so beyond grateful for knowing him .

You have missed out if you’ve never met Dean Stock. Dean Stock was the life of the party everyday. He always had a huge smile on his face and was probably flipping you off for fun 🖕🏼(hahaha he did that as joke when he couldn't speak anymore). He always wanted to have fun. Even the last days leading up to when he took his last breath, he acted like he didn’t have a worry in the world. If you were crying he’d say, “suck it up buttercup”. Even through everything he was dealing with, he was still an amazing, badass dad. He loved his kids and wife more than anything…well not as much as his nurses at the Palliative care…haha. He used to shuffle around the hallways handing out Halloween candy to the “hot nurses” 😂!! Even though he was fading away, he made sure to keep his love and personality alive. When he left he gave those things to us, so we live, love and laugh for him.

I was so young when he died that I only remember “sick daddy” which to this day hurts my heart. Even though he isn’t with us now, our family has so many home videos and pictures for me to look at whenever I need. Even though I only remember him being sick he was still a kick ass incredible dad. Imagine what he would have been like if he wasn’t sick!! I wish I remembered more of him and that's something I'll wish for forever. Before he passed he wrote me a letter and he said that if I ever want to be with him, we can meet in my dreams. That’s exactly what happens when I fall asleep wearing his tee shirts that I still try to believe smell like him. Oh boy, I love him so much. Something I wish for the most is just one more hug. One more hug to just reassure myself that I'll be okay. But you don’t always get everything you wish for and I've learnt to accept that. I've accepted what has happened but the feeling it has given me will forever leave me speechless.

-Sophie Stock

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