(Pewaukee, WI, USA)
I was Christmas shopping when I got the phone call. It was my brother's girlfriend, saying that my dad was in the hospital. He had a heart attack.
I rushed to the hospital, under the impression that he was at least conscious. But he wasn't. He was hooked up to so many tubes. I'll never forget the incessant beeping, especially as he got closer to the end. And the way his chest heaved up when the compressor forced him to take a breath. The grey hue of his skin and the way he shivered uncontrollably while they cooled his body. It was gruesome.
For two days, we watched him and hoped for the best. But it wasn't really him we were watching at that point. He had lost consciousness for good, the day he collapsed at work. We were told that the treatment hadn't worked and it was very unlikely he would wake up. If he did, he would never be the person we knew. He would never walk or talk, and he would not be able to care for himself.
We knew our father too well to condemn him to that kind of life. So they took him off of life support. We stood around him with his friends and our family. We each said something to him, and someone said a prayer. At 12:07pm on December 8, 2012, my father's body took its final breath.
The hardest part has been dealing with the suddenness of the loss. My father was always a very healthy man. In fact, if you would have asked me a week earlier which parent would be in the hospital, I would have bet my mother. A week before going into the hospital, he had dragged a Christmas tree up to the second floor of our apartment building! But it turns out that Dad wasn't as healthy as he led us to believe. After speaking with his primary doctor, we found out that he knew the end was near. He didn't tell a single person, although looking back we can see where he hinted at it.
What's really bizarre is that I had a dream about his death, two weeks before it happened. It was one of the most intense dreams of my life. And right after his death, I felt an overwhelming amount of grief but I also found peace for a few weeks. I understood his death and it gave me joy, to think of him in a place where he no longer suffered.
But lately it feels like I'm back at square one. If I'm not depressed, I'm completely apathetic to everything. I wonder what the point is, when everything is temporary. Our loved ones will always leave us, or we will leave them. Nothing is guaranteed. How can anyone feel comfortable in a world like this? And how does anyone deal with this kind of pain? I can't fathom that everyone alive will have to go through this, unless they die before their parents. I can't even imagine losing a child. Or a spouse. How does anyone keep living after these kinds of losses?
I just don't understand how I could have felt so calm right around the time of his death, and so distraught now, months later. Right after he died it almost felt like he was still with me, just in a different way. But now I don't feel anything at all. And I'm moving out of the apartment where we had lived together, the two of us. So it feels like everything that was a part of my life is being torn apart. I feel like I'm breaking my connection to him by being so depressed and by leaving. I just don't know how to go back to being a normal, productive person. It feels like this is never going to go away.