Will I ever be okay?
Tomorrow will be 6 months since my Dad passed away.
6 months. And I'm no better now than I was then except
that I've learned to hide it. I hide it because I feel that if my Mom or my brother or sister knew how sad my heart was, I will interfere with their healing. So I hide it. I don't want anyone to ask me if I'm okay. Why would I be? Don't you know what I've been through? Don't you remember?
This is my story.
My Dad fought so hard. He was diagnosed with lung cancer and fought every single day for 4 years. 4 years. His doctors said that he had outlived the statistics. Then on September 23, my mom told me. They had given him weeks. Weeks?!? What happened to months? It was so out of the blue. I was completely devastated.
Then in September 25th, I got a text from my sister telling me to call home. I was not prepared for what she was about to tell me. My brother had been in a horrible car accident and was ejected from his car. He had to be taken to a hospital by flight. I remember hanging up the phone and walking to my supervisors office to tell him I had to go home and saying I was kick his butt when I got there.
Seeing my brother laying there like that... there are no words. I remember just looking at him laying there in ICU and all I could think was "He doesn't have any bruises." Not one. The doctors were pretty confident that he hadn't suffered any brain injuries but he did have a small 1 millimeter bruise on his brain. Don't get me wrong, he was in serious condition but that boy. Ugh that boy is soooo lucky. I threw up in the hospital parking lot that night.
My Dad wasn't doing great but either I was just so distracted by my brother or I just wasn't paying attention. He couldn't stay at the hospital with us for very long so we ended up going back and forth from the hospital to our camper at the lake which was closer than my parents house. I was soooo torn. I knew my mom needed help with my dad but I didn't want to leave my brother either. My sister, cousin and my brother's girlfriend never left the hospital.
On day 3, the doctors decided they were going to try to take him off of the ventilator. In order to do that, they had to slowly take him off of the sedatives. I don't know if you've ever experienced this but that was rough. I can't even go into detail about how awful that was. After that horrific day, they decided to wait one more day. Day 4, repeat of Day 3 looming in the future.
The next day, they brought him off of the sedatives again. I remember my mom busting out of the ICU door with this huge smile. She said he was using sign language and was asking what happened. He still the tubes in and couldn't talk. But he did have a deaf friend in high school so he knew sign language. But the fact that he was communicating using another language that he had learned so long ago just made me almost scream in relief. I knew he was going to be okay.
I can't remember what day it was but I remember my dad was there and he was telling me to make sure I came back to the camper in time to watch Alabama kick the crap out of Arkansas. We are all huge Bama fans! ROLL TIDE!
Nine days later. NINE. My brother walked out of that hospital. And we walked into nightmare part 2.
Even though my dad's doctor had said it would be weeks, it just didn't seem right. Dad was tired and stuff but it didn't seem all that much different than before. But it was different. Big time. This time the sleep was different. They had told us that his calcium levels would be getting higher and higher and that he would eventually go to sleep and not wake up.
Having someone suddenly pass in their sleep is not the same as knowing they will. There was total panic in my parents house every time we had trouble getting him to wake up. Then is was just a sigh of relief with "Dad, please drink some water. Dad, please eat a little."
I wasn't sure what to do. Hospice had said he may go on like this for months. They just never know. But that moment, in the living room, when my Dad said that he would hate to see me leave... I stood up and said I'm not going anywhere.
Then there were the nights. During the day, it seemed like people were there and there was always some distraction. But the nights... it was awful. My mom was a complete mess. She would make me and my sister read the end of life folder that hospice had brought. "Do you think he is doing this? Does he have these symptoms?" The whole thing was almost as traumatic as his death. It was just awful. To know.
October 23, 2012, I wake up to my mom and sister frantically changing oxygen tubes. His oxygen level had dropped and they couldn't get it up. Hospice was on their way. I don't remember very much between that and when I went outside. Actually the only thing I remember sitting on my parents bed, looking at my dad and asking the hospice nurse if something was going to happen. I'll never forget what she said. "Something is going to happen sometime". If I only knew. I stood up, kissed my dad on his right temple, told him I loved him, and I walked out. And never went back.
I just sat on the deck. Within hours it was over. I just sat there. Why did I do that? What if he was waiting for me? I relive that day over so many times just over and over but the ending can never change.
I hate myself. I was so selfish. I read stories about people who had wished they could have that last minute, that last breath. I had it. And I let it pass. You can't undo it. You can't rewind time and be in the room with the rest of your family. You will always be the one who was outside.
The last coherent thing my dad said to me was "What was the score of the game?" (Bama vs Tennessee) It was 44-13 Dad. We won.
This brings me to today, 6 months later. Still grieving. And back to my question, will we ever be okay?