How do you say goodbye to someone you love? Someone you didn’t get enough time with? Someone you took for granted as being right around the corner, and then they’re not there anymore?
My dad passed away last week. I wanted to make an account of what has been going on, so that years from now I can remember everything. As it is, I’ve left this 4 days and things are blurry.
Thursday night I spoke to dad on the way home from work. He’d been to the dr. to get more antibiotics for a cough he had and couldn’t shake. But he said he and Sue (step-mum) were still right to look after Nick the following afternoon while I worked.
At 2 am there was a knock on our door. We later saw the missed calls on our mobiles. I never heard anything, not even the knocking. I guess I was well and truly asleep.
At the door was my youngest sister and her husband. My poor baby sister had to be the one to tell me that dad had had a heart attack and passed away. I remember instantly feeling the breath being sucked out of me and my arms and legs going numb. I’d never understood that feeling until that night.
They were on the way to the hospital, and I said I’d go with them. I said to my husband, “I just have to have a quick shower.” The things that go through our head when we are in shock! I got in the bathroom and stripped down, then realised “What am I doing?” I got dressed and we left.
As Troy pulled away from the curb, I silently asked him to please drive carefully. The family already had one tragedy on our hands, they didn’t need another.
I remember passing a couple of patients standing out front of the hospital smoking. I wanted to slap them stupid.
We were let through the door to the back of the emergency room. When we told a nurse who we were looking for, our sister, Crystal, stepped out from behind a curtain. Kayla went in, I hesitated. Crystal said it was ok, that he looked peaceful, and I went in. I had to sit, I couldn’t feel my legs, my feet, my hands, even though they were all shaking.
Sue told us what had happened and I wanted to throw up. At the time I didn’t realise that no matter how hard this was for us, she has to re-live that story every second of every day. The horror and nightmare of having to deal with 000, CPR, paramedics…we were spared all that.
A little after 3 am, we all left. The police had just shown up to speak to Sue and get her statement. Because he was so young, and it was so sudden, they had to do an investigation. I suppose it was good that she got it out of the way and didn’t have to go and relive the story again the next day in the police station. It still seemed a cruel thing to put her through less than 3 hours after dad’s passing.
There was no sleep that night. I came home and went through all my photos, looking for pictures of him. Thankfully we do have a lot of pictures. And some great ones from recently, during really great times.
Friday I was torn between wanting to pull the covers over my head and stay in bed all day and needing to be at his place. We went to be with Sue, and so did a lot of other people. There were people in and out of the place all day, bringing flowers, food, but most importantly, stories and memories of dad. It was almost comforting to be there, to be surrounded by “him” and to hear his friends talk about him. They are all so devastated which says a lot about the kind of friend he was.
We met with the funeral director and made plans for dad’s memorial and cremation. His golf club called and offered to take care of the wake, which was an amazingly generous gesture by them. We are expecting approx 150 people this Friday. In my drunken state I offered to do the eulogy.
We’ve since met with the celebrant and we have an arrangement, if I think I can do it, I’ll nod to her, if not, I’ll shake my head and she will read it for me. I’m not going to put any pressure on myself to do it, I’ll wait and see how I feel on the day.
Its been a roller-coaster. I go through periods where I feel like I’ve accepted it. Death is a part of life and none of us are guaranteed a certain number of days with our loved ones. I feel like its happened, we have to give him a huge send-off, and we have to move forward with our lives, never forgetting him.
Then I have moments where I am so.damn.fucking.angry. And I ask “Why him??” I see old people, or people being stupid, and I think “Why not YOU?!?!?”
My heart is broken for my son. He loved so much to go to grandma and granddads, and go for a walk, feed the ducks, play with his toys. And my dad just adored his little guy. He was always telling me what a great kid he was. I hate that my son is going to miss out on that relationship.
I’m also really confused about my beliefs. I want to believe dad is in heaven, but I worry. What if the catholics are right? What if the Jews are right? If ANY of the religions are “right” then dad won’t be in heaven? Maybe heaven isn’t a religious place, but a spiritual place? Maybe it is what you want it to be, like in What Dreams May Come? Or The 5 People You Meet In Heaven? If that’s the case, then I have no doubt dad’s playing the best golf of his life on the best golf course he’s ever seen.
In one way, I’m more afraid of dying, because it could happen at any time. And I want to be around for a LOT more years yet. On the other hand, I’m not afraid of it anymore, because my dad will be there waiting for me.
There is a silver lining. He went quickly, and I hope, painlessly. I hope he slept through it and didn’t even know what had happened. He was at a place in his life where things were good. I believe he was content. He was semi-retired, got to play golf when he wanted, got to spend time with his friends and loved ones, he got to love being a granddad. He never wanted to get old, incompetent, incapable of looking after himself. He watched that happen to his mother and he always said he didn’t want to be like her. I’m thankful that whatever it was that took him, took him quick. Had he survived a heart attack and been a vegetable, or paralysed he would have been miserable. Sure, we would have still had him with us, but what kind of life would he have had then?
I’ve written my eulogy. I’ve done the program for the funeral. And I’ve made the slideshow. It was actually quite therapeutic to go through all those things. I think it has helped with the grieving process. It is hard to look at pictures of him, its like he is there, looking at me, telling me to not be sad, that he is always with us. That we need to live our lives and be happy and enjoy every minute of it. That’s exactly what he’d say. And that is exactly what I am going to try and do…once Friday is over.