Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Seven Years

I wish that 14 year old me had written down what was going through my mind that week. I wish 14 year old me had bothered to document it so that maybe 21 year old me wouldn't be sitting here right now replaying it in my head just to make sure I never forget. I do this every year. This is the 7th. For each day of the 8 days between February 18th and 25th I sit here and think about my dad. I stop and think of where I was on each day in 2009. So I close my eyes and I picture it...

Day 1: I'm doing homework. Dad says he doesn't feel good; he's sweating and feverish, so I grab the thermometer, but it won't work. I grab a cool rag for his forehead. Dad stumbles down the hallway. Jarrod calls the ambulance. Dad mistakenly tells the paramedics he's not on any medications so I correct him and grab the bottles from the kitchen - something is not right. I call mom 100 times. When she doesn't answer I call everyone else. We all keep calling her. I know there's more to what happened that night, but I wasn't there for it all. I went to bed hoping everything would be okay. Hoping I'd wake up to good news.

Day 2: No good news yet. I go to school and try to pretend it's a normal day, but I know that it's not. I just have to get through the day. After school I'm picked up and we go to the hospital. Dad's been in open heart surgery for over 18 hours. They take us into a room and I can see Mom and I spot a plastic bag of Dad's clothes he had on the night before. Mom says whatever happens we will all stick together.

Day 3 - Day 7: These are the days where the order of events gets foggy. I remember crying and praying in corners of a hospital waiting room. I remember tossing pennies in a fountain wishing for a miracle. I remember sleeping on waiting room furniture and eating pudding from the hospital cafeteria. I remember late nights talking to my sister's friend about my plans for the future while pretending my dad might still be here to see it. I remember running out of the ICU confused and crying because my dad's chest was still cracked open and two plastic hearts were pumping his blood for him. I remember the tubes and machines operating his body for him. I remember not recognizing the look of his face because of the swelling. I remember seeing family pour in from out of town and not being able to decide if I was happy to see them, knowing what their presence might mean. I remember what hope felt like and then I remember it being stripped away hour by hour, day by day. I remember hearing words and phrases that are so painful I wouldn't wish them on any family. I remember seeing my mom talking to doctors and nurses about options. I remember saying goodbye. I remember her telling us "he's gone." The worst phrase of all.

Day 8: We go to the church. We get our ashes for Ash Wednesday. We pick out prayers and songs for the service. We go to the funeral home and the cemetery. We pick out a casket and a plot. We go home, and so does Dad - to be with God.

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