A month ago today....
My dad died on September 6th, 2012, after me, my sister, and my two brothers made the decision to have him removed from ventilatory support after spending 6 days on a ventilator. He was not conscious so we could ask him what he wanted us to do. He had suffered from COPD for several years and was oxygen dependent. He was hospitalized for acute respiratory failure on Sept 1 and my younger sister and brother were with him in the emergency room when they decided to intubate him and put him on the ventilator. My sister's last words to him before he was put into a drug induced coma were "I love you, dad". If those were indeed the last words he heard, I"m so happy she got to say them. Ironically, those were also the last words I spoke to my father, about 3 days before he went into the hospital.
I live in Tennessee, and he lived in NY. My sister called from the E.R. to tell me what was happening. I stayed in constant contact with my sister until finally on Monday, labor day, I took my husband and kids and went to NY to be with him. We knew things weren't looking good. My brother from GA, my brother who lived with my dad, my sister and I all stayed at the hospital most of the time, watching that machine breathe for our dad. Watching him lay there, wishing this wasn't what was happening. Having to make the decision to keep our dad on 100% ventilator support and moving forward with a tracheotomy or turning off the machines was the hardest decision any child has to make for their parent. Watching him die for 6 hours after the ventilator was turned off was traumatic. Seeing what a person experiences in that situation, surreal. I don't know how we did it. Watching, waiting, for that last, tiny breath, before everything stopped... impossible.
Afterwards, doing your duty, planning the funeral, visiting with the family members, making sure things get done, all happened without too many tears. Shock and denial were firmly in control. Everything was done without a hitch. Then you leave and go home, to real life, P.D. (post dad). Little by little the shock subsides, and the reality starts to reveal itself. Your life is changed forever. I think about that day, I"m positively traumatized by what we saw. I think about my dad, and wish I could see him again. I don't want to go back to everyday life. I watch everyone around me, going about their business, normal. I don't feel normal at all. I miss my dad. I used to call him every day on my way home from work. I can't call him now. I look at his facebook page, and his last posts, telling his granddaughter he was feeling a little better, I have a "poke" from him on my facebook page, waiting for a poke back. I post an I love you message to him, just because I want so despearately to just have him see it, to be sure he knew how much I love him, and what a great man I thought he was. Wishing I'd see that facebook reply, saying that he loves me too, but knowing I wouldn't.
I don't know what is "normal" a month into this process, but I don't feel any closer to getting over it than I did the first week. He was only 67 years old. He didn't deserve to suffer or have it all end that soon. He was loving, fun, and valued family above all else in his life. My husband doesn't seem to understand. My kids don't need to see me like this. I don't know where it goes from here. All I know is how much I miss him, and how sad I am.