***I wrote this a few days after Christmas, when I wasn’t sure how to get home or even sure my mind would process what exactly happened. My father died on Christmas eve, and it’s taken me 2 weeks to even post this because it still doesn’t make sense to me. He may not have been my biological father, but he was my Dad, and I miss him every single day.***
“We lost him…he’s gone.”
I keep hearing my mother’s anguished voice repeating those words over and over in my head and yet they simply can’t be real. They can’t be, this is a fucked up joke and I’m going to close my eyes and when I open them he will be there calling me his favorite son and drinking a beer. It’s Christmas time…this isn’t real. He just texted me a few hours ago…this isn’t real. Please tell me this isn’t real…
My Dad is dead. He’s really gone and I just need someone to wake me up because this isn’t real. It can’t be real because it doesn’t make any sense. He was laughing at the table; that is what Grandma said. He was laughing and joking and went into the back room and suddenly something was wrong. He was having trouble breathing, he broke out in hives, he asked mom to call 911. I was on the phone with my Uncle Jay at the time, because I said I would call at 6ish on Christmas Eve, but I overslept so I was calling late to wish everyone Merry Christmas. I couldn’t get home this year; I just didn’t have the money. Dad had texted me Merry Christmas earlier that day, but I didn’t text back. I would talk to him later, I thought, and went back to sleep. My Uncle was distracted so I asked what was wrong, and he told me something was wrong with Dad…
I had my Uncle put Mom on the phone and I was trying to figure out what had her freaked out. The last thing I heard was her crying out that he wasn’t breathing and the phone went dead.
I was in my car. Yes, I know I shouldn’t be talking while driving, but I was and I panicked. I wasn’t there. My dad was going into Anaphylactic Shock and I wasn’t there. I’m the EMT in the family, and I wasn’t home. My brother and my uncle were doing CPR, but I knew. I know. His throat….he needed a paramedic and fast and the ALS units in our area are notoriously slow. So I called my Training Officer. I had all but stopped paying attention to where I was driving as I begged her to get my team down there. Get someone, anyone, to my house. Each minute means something, I know this. I’m the EMT. I’m in Iowa. I couldn’t get home because it was just too much money. I would be home this summer. Dad and I were going to go fishing. I needed someone to get to my house now.
I tried calling my mom back, but it was pandemonium, so instead I told my Aunt that I had more EMTs on the way and then I waited. I talked myself into calming down. My team will get to him. They will help. This is what we do, we help. He will be okay. He’s my Dad…the man shot himself in the hand and jokes about it. He broke his back when he was younger and no one knew. He’ll be fine.
I told my bosses I would be on the phone checking in with my family, and joking about how we can’t have one family function without drama. They asked if I wanted to go home, but I said no. No, he would be fine, besides I’ll just be home alone. It’s Christmas Eve and my girlfriend was working as well. No, I’ll stay at work. I’ll just have to step out to take a few calls, and yell at my Dad for scaring us all.
I was on the phone with a friend when my mom called me. I knew. My stomach dropped and something in my heart…My brother had said my father was purple when I called to see if any news were given…Chuck couldn’t get air into my dad, but they were still working on him when they arrived and they hadn’t heard anything. I knew they would Trach him, and give him the meds he needed. The doctors would fight for my father. I’ve seen them fight before, they would fight for him. His heart is strong, because he is my Dad and he has a strong heart.
I heard my mother cry out over the phone to me and I felt the whole world stop. All I could tell my Mom was that it would be okay. It would be okay, and I loved her, and I’m coming home. She begged me to get to my girlfriend; to get home and be with her. I know my mother; she didn’t want me to be alone. She didn’t realize I was at work, that my body stopped working. I was outside in the cold, trying to breathe while assuring her I would. I would get to Amanda. I love her. I promise it’s going to be okay Momma. I love you.
And suddenly I couldn’t breathe. I hung up the phone and my brain stopped. I tried getting air into my lungs but all I could manage were these strangled sobs that hurt my chest. It was cold out; the air was thin, and I couldn’t wrap my mind around anything. Amanda…call Amanda. I forced myself to breathe, in out slow, deep…Amanda please. When she finally picked up I’m pretty sure there weren’t any coherent words. She was coming…I remember her saying that…She was coming to get me. She was at work, but she would come for me. Go inside and wait for her.
Right…I was at work…I got inside and the warmth of the building slapped me in the face as I tried to make it to my desk.
“Faith are you okay?”
My new semi-boss-lady; a representative of the company I work for through my company, was watching me from her desk. My Dad is dead…and I couldn’t breathe again. I tried. I pressed my hand into my stomach and the other into my chest. Suddenly, I was surrounded by people, well 2, assisting me into her office. I didn’t realize my knees were buckling. I sat down and just forced myself to breathe. Panicked looks on her’s and another supervisor’s face brought me to the reality of my surroundings. You are at work…deep breath…calm down…Amanda is coming…this can’t be real.
They both distracted me with inane things while we waited for my girlfriend. Football, lifting, my upcoming trip to Florida…funny stories about my Dad; he’s not my biological Dad, but I wish he was. He has been my Daddy for years. I never thought I would call another man that, but he was special. A jerk sometimes sure, but I was his favorite son hehehe I fished with him, and watched old westerns and asked about cars and played sports. My brother is the musician and they bumped heads, but Dad and I got along…cept for the time I punched him for making Mom cry. But we laugh about that…we laughed about it.
Jerk cost me 22 bucks an hour that night…knowing him he’d tell me that I shouldn’t be working Christmas anyways. To relax, enjoy life, enjoy my girlfriend. He’s one of my biggest supporter; had my back when my Mom and I were fighting about my sexuality…told her to get her head out of her butt and all that jazz. He wore rainbow suspenders to work…wore them until they finally broke, because they were his favorite. I got them for him as a joke, but he’s that kind of guy. He didn’t care. I was his kid and he was proud of me.
Even if he made dirty jokes and called me a big ole dyke just to piss my mother off because she hates that word. It was funny…
So this can’t be real. It can’t be real because it’s Dad, and it’s Christmas and he finally wrapped his own presents this year for my mom. And I got him a gift card to his favorite sports store; the same one he talked me into buying a bow and arrow set from, and the one we got our fishing licenses from. So no, this can’t be real…he was laughing and posting on Facebook just a few hours before. So this isn’t real.
My Training Officer called and told me what they didn’t tell my mom. The procedures taken, how long CPR was done, how they just couldn’t get his heart going again. I could see everything happening in my head. I’ve seen it so many times before. It was the father of one of their own, they would try harder. They wouldn’t stop until nothing else could be done. There was nothing I could have done if I was there. To not let myself think of it, but that was too late. Would I have realized a few minutes sooner that this wasn’t a normal reaction? Would I have thought to have him chew Benadryl instead of swallow it? Would I have thought to force anything I could into his throat to keep his airway open? Would I have frozen?
Would, could, should…the world is a fuckin shit place sometimes, and I wasn’t. I wasn’t home, so none of it matters…but I’m so fucking angry. How dare he do this…he was supposed to grow old with my Mom. He was going see me marry Amanda, because she’s it. She’s the one. He was going to terrorize my kids, and I was going to be angry with him for doing something jerky to my mom. He would leave because of old age…not some fucking fluke thing like an allergic reaction. Not like this.
I want to punch and scream and fucking lose it. I want to tell every person who wishes me a Merry Christmas to shove his/her holiday cheer where the sun don’t shine and to leave me the fuck alone. I don’t want the pity on everyone’s face, or explain why I’m at work…because it is too hard to stay at home and see the presents him and my Mom got me this year. I’m angry because seeing my new McLintock dvd sent me over the edge again and Amanda had to hold me as I tried to calm down again.
And I know…I know…normal reactions…I should let myself cry…but I hate crying. I hate people seeing me cry. Everything hurts and nothing changes. I calm down, and cry again. I feel drained and sluggish…
It just can’t be real. And my brother…You will not meet a gentler boy. My father and brother just recently took a First Aid/CPR course through work, because they thought it would be a useful skill to know. Neither one thought that one would be receiving CPR while the other administrated it, but my brother did. My brother fought to get air into my father. Fought to save our mother’s partner, the man who became our father…who wormed his way into all of our hearts with a mischievous smile and a chuckle. I never, ever, wanted me brother to know that kind of panic. I never wanted him to know that kind of simultaneous refusal and knowledge that you are losing the person right in front of you; I never wanted my brother to know death in this way. As much as I love being an EMT, that is the one part of the job that just takes small parts of your soul with you, and I would never want anyone to feel that pain.
I feel like I’m stuck in a movie…what if’s running through my head…my mom’s crying…my brother telling me that Dad would have really liked Amanda…
I can’t…I’ve buried so many people but how do I help my family through this? Everyone says they are keeping us in their thoughts and prayers, but that means nothing to me…to someone that has long stopped believing in the power of prayer. Prayers won’t help my mother pay for my Dad’s funeral…prayer won’t keep cars on the road and roofs over heads. How do I help? Do I simply police Facebook? Make sure everyone is notified first before posts are created.
Oh my god fucking Facebook. No less than 10 hours after my Dad died people were tagging him in posts about his death. What is fucking wrong with people? Is 10 hours enough time to notify family and friends? On regular days let alone Christmas? My mother didn’t leave the hospital until 6 in the morning, exhausted, because she just lost the man she thought she was going to spend the rest of her life with died in front of her…and what she was supposed to call every single person to let them know?
I got a lot of people saying they didn’t mean disrespect, but what is wrong in people’s minds? What do they think it felt like…having to get into my Dad’s account and constantly delete and send messages from his account and asking people to just not tag him? What about those who we couldn’t get right away? Or maybe it was decided to at least give everyone a Christmas without bad news, like my Dad would want it.
Just what the fucking fuck?! Are we that desensitized? Facebook isn’t the end all, be all, for communication. You want people to know about someone’s death you frickin pick up a phone. You go to his/her house. You don’t do a post that everyone, people you don’t even know, can see it? Give the family a chance to process…give my mom a chance to process.
It just doesn’t make sense…none of it makes sense. I just want my Daddy. I want to text him back and tell him I love him. I want to hear his voice and tell him Merry Christmas. I want to go fishing again. He promised me next year we would go ice fishing. He was supposed to meet Amanda, make derogatory jokes and congratulate me on finally finding a girl to put up with me. I want to hear his laugh, tell me this is just one messed up joke to get me home.
But I can’t, because my Dad is gone….I don’t know what to do. This just can’t be real. It just can’t.