"Afraid" and "Sad" are two of the last things my dad wrote, eyes closed, Sunday while recovering from surgery earlier that morning. I had gone home the night before, and got back to the hospital shortly after the surgery was completed. I guess he had spoken a little after the surgery, but by the time I saw him, he was trying to write letters on my arm and chest with his finger. The only thing I could make out was "I love you" and after awhile I had to apologize to him for not being able to understand what he was trying to write. I told him I knew how frustrating it was to not have me understand him, and he put his fingers together and made a writing motion. It took the nurses forever to find me a clipboard and pencil, and most of what he wrote was illegible, but asking him to hold up 1 finger if I got the word right, and 2 if not – I could read those 2 words. Afraid. Sad. I told him not to worry and to get some rest. He gave me the pencil and that was the last I saw him responsive.
I know most of the people that somehow happen across this blog have no idea who me, or my dad, are… so this post is mostly for me. I feel lost and don't really know who to talk to, or what to say. And I feel that if I don't write something down, I'll forget things. Forgetting anything about my dad seems as scary as losing him in the first place.
My dad had a stroke Saturday morning. Around 5am. My brother was up and talking to him while it happened, and being an EMT realized what was going on and called an ambulance immediately. Life felt like it was going in slow motion. Nothing was real. Every night I've gone to sleep knowing that I'd wake up and be able to tell my dad about the horrible dream that I had. Sunday morning I had even woken up thinking that he was asking me if I wanted anything for breakfast – that split second that my brain had tricked me was probably the happiest moment of my life – followed by the crushing realization of.. reality.
From the moment he got to the hospital, everyone was optimistic. The doctors were very positive that everything would be ok, and that because it had been caught right away, a nearly-full recovery was not out of the question. But it seemed like after every "everything went as well as we could have hoped for", that things were less promising. Looking back, it seems like they were lowering their expectations, and gauging the current situation on that – without really letting anyone know that this "things are looking good" wasn't as good as the last one.
The gravity of the whole thing still hasn't really hit me. Even holding his hand until the very end, I only had glimpses of the pain and sadness that I would end up feeling. Knowing my dad, I think it's more likely that he was trying to tell me not to be afraid or sad for him. He was the strongest, and most stubborn person I know, and the greatest, and I know that even faced with all that, he'd be more worried about me than himself.
And around 10:30pm, January 1st, 2013, I had to say goodbye to him. I miss him so much, and can't imagine my life without him. I don't really want to. I shouldn't have to. This wasn't fair for him at all.
I love you dad. I love you so much.