I got the phone call, knew what was going to happen soon. Knew that there would come a day in my near future where I would live in a world where my father was dead.
I put my mug down, my phone down, opened up the door to the Sun Room, closed the door, and collapsed onto the floor. I wailed into the carpet. My throat hurt more than I thought it ever could, and so quickly. My breathing was hurried, barely any air.
I stopped myself. I needed to breathe. Realized if I continued to cry, continued to blast out my emotions, my hyperventilating would cause me to pass out.
What will make me feel better? What do I want right now?
I texted Gray. I drove to the city. Saw my best friend. Spoke to my mentor on the phone. And, before I drove back home, I gave my mother a hug.
As I rose from my cry, it occurred to me: my position there on the floor. As I began the process of grief, before the ultimate moment had even come, my legs bent and tucked under my chest, my head on the floor, my arms in front; I was in child’s pose.
The hospital my father died in, the one I visited thrice before he passed, with it’s marble walls and soft couches and inviting faces. I’d been there before he slipped, thirty years earlier.
The hospital where I was born was the hospital in which my father died.
I found it while looking in the mirror and brushing my teeth. It was not too long ago when I made the discovery, just a bit before my current emotional rollercoaster began. I only found one, about two inches long. A gray hair.
When I visited him, saw him in the hospital bed, his face vacant, his limbs looking less than, I noticed his hair. Someone had pulled it back into a bun sitting atop his head. His salt and pepper hair, a mess.
As I drove to work on Saturday, waiting to pull out onto the main thoroughfare, I paused to wait for a funeral line to pass. About two dozen cars slowly drove through the intersection, flashing lights and hanging signs marking their grief.
That night, while at work, I got a call from my brother. Dad had taken a turn.
As I drove my younger brother up to the hospital, I didn’t want him to talk. But he’s my brother, so he did.
He’d had a dream about Dad, before all this had started. He dreamed about Dad not being well.
“Isn’t that something?”
“Whatever, dude.” I muttered it. I dismissed him.
Because, in my last session with Doc, I uttered words I could never take back. We spoke about how my father was old and if I wanted to repair the relationship with him I needed to take the initiative and be understanding about his life, all he’s gone through. After all, being that he was 83 yrs. old, at best he had maximum ten years left.
“Yes, my father is not long for this world.”
I didn’t realize how right I, or brother, was.
Television is too pretty when it comes to death.
I love Netflix, have been catching up on new episodes of my favorite shows, and I saw one tonight where a character was on life support, in a coma. They looked too pretty. No slack jaw. No eyes rolled up into their head. No blood or crud on their teeth. Too pretty; too clean.
The nurses told us we should leave the room when they took the breathing tube out. Most of us did; my older brother didn’t. I’m glad I didn’t have to see that. In the show, it was simple and clean. Real life is much messier.
Ella, when they took her off, just passed. My Dad last several hours, from around 1:30pm til around 8:30pm.
It’s hard for television to express that, to accurately show what it’s like to wait for someone you love to die. It’s not a straight line of misery. There are moments when you almost smile, when you take yourself away from the sadness. Looking at something stupid on YouTube. Stories about this or that. Leaving the room for food or to go walk outside. It seems to me a person can only take misery in doses.
My Dad is dead. I still haven’t cried. I’m hoping the Labyrinth at camp will help. Or possibly the funeral. Or when I talk to Doc. Because, right now, every time I come close, I lock it down.
I was going to write a blog post about two weeks ago titled Breaking the Box. I put my feelings about my Dad in a box and locked them away for a weekend. I wanted to have fun instead of focusing on conflicted emotions with him. This was before he got sick.
My last session was all about me talking about said emotions with Doc. I opened the box for an hour. I had hoped, over time, to learn to break the box, to accept my Dad for who he is and find a place where I could just love him despite the pain my life dealt me.
Now I don’t know now if I’ll ever break the box.
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