I took some notes on January 10. My dad had been in the hospital for a few days already and had just been transferred to a convalescent home for cardiac rehab following a congestive heart failure diagnosis. Here is what I wrote:
His back had taken on the shape of the raised bed, curved and slumped.
That’s the first thing that popped into my head when I saw my dad laying on the gurney in the emergency room.
I’ve been so angry for so long I haven’t felt a thing. But how can I be mad at him now? He needs me and I’ve realized that now, more than ever, I need him. I was always a daddy’s girl and I realized today I still am.
I’m scared. I know he’s scared too. And to see him shaken, to see him cry breaks my heart into pieces.
I’m carrying a lot of guilt for not stepping in and doing anything sooner. I feel like I should have known. But I really didn’t. I didn’t know he was this bad. This weak. He has bed sores from laying in bed at home. On just a small sliver he slept. My mom built the hoard up around him. I wonder how long he lay there. I wonder if he ate. I wonder about a lot of things.
I was going to write more but didn’t get around to it. By January 17, my dad had passed away. I don’t know the exact time. I know I received a call from my mom at 10:56am that morning, voice panicked telling me they were trying to get my dad’s vitals back. I know I called Matt to get him home. I know right before that I had to stop and let out a sob while leaning on my computer chair. The fear hit my gut. I was already afraid. But this was every fear realized. I knew then he was gone. I could feel it in my heart. But I hoped. Oh, how I hoped.
Matt got home, we gathered September’s things, and we hopped in the car. My phone didn’t ring, just popped up with the missed call signal. And I waited. I waited a few more moments. I held onto a world where my dad was still live. Then a voicemail notification popped up. I took a heavy breath and pressed play. My mom’s voice coming from my dad’s cell phone. Her message was at least 30 seconds long but I only listened for a moment. “He’s gone,” she said. And I hung up.
And I sobbed. And I couldn’t feel the loss even though I knew there was a loss. Even though I was crying, I couldn’t feel the reason why I was crying. This can’t be happening, I thought.
Now it’s January 30. My dad is in the ground. And there are still moments where I think this isn’t real.
I have so much more to say and there will be plenty of time for that. But for now, I’ll say I’m sad. I miss him. This is the longest I’ve ever gone without talking to him and I know it will only get longer now. So much longer. When he called my house, his voice would play out on the answering machine: “Hey Bren, it’s your ol’ dad. If you’re there, pick up.” The same every time. And now every time the phone rings my heart leaps into my throat and I think maybe.
I dreamt last night that he was sick. That I was at his bedside and coming up with schemes and plans for his recovery. Then I woke up and remembered he was gone.
And it’s that feeling of losing him all over again that I can’t bear. People do this every day. But how? How am I supposed to keep going without him? Without him saying, “I love you” and “Remember your ol’ dad when you’re rich and famous, okay?” Without his laugh and smile and warmth?
I get up. Get dressed. Work. Play with my daughter. Live my life. But it is a grayer life.