“Take the sheet off his face” I cried as I saw my father laying on the white, lukewarm hospital bed.
“He needs to be able to breathe.” I sobbed.
“He can’t breathe if he has the sheet on his face. Take it off right now.”
The orders, mixed with a rushing river of tears, would not stop coming. There was no obstacle that could slow the immense pain I was feeling in that cold, depressing room.
Surrounded by family….one member is gone.
“Mae, he’s dead” I faintly heard my sister say. She put her left hand on my back as she succeeded in comforting me for a short minute. Though I’m the older one, there are times she steps in to be that example of a great big sister.
I knew in my head that he had passed, my heart was still aching to see him reach for the last bit of life he could muster up.
Just one more attempt….at least until I could get to the hospital to see him. To say goodbye. It was 6:20 pm, he had passed at 5:54 pm.
“Goodbye” is supposed to actually be a positive word. A word often used to illustrate departure. No one ever says Bad-bye, because in this world where people are essentially “good”, we wish happiness on others even if hypocrisy is the prodigal child.
But what if the departure was indeed not good? What if the leaving was under sad, horrible, unimaginable circumstances?
Are we allowed to say Bad-bye?
Even the word processor tells me I spelled “badbye” wrong. Because, we want to believe that the exit out of this world, or the entry into another will truly be “good” or just a bit better than what it was…
However, at the end of every exit is an entry.
After his battle with brain cancer, (that really none of us knew about until it was pretty much too late) my dad slipped into a world that we will never understand.
In fact, we don’t even really know where he went to, what he is doing, whether he will return.
His exit out of this world was not a good one….it was sad, he was covered in death from the inside out, and yet, he still managed to open his eyes, smile and acknowledge the people he loves.
Yesterday marked a month that he left us. But I can’t really say he left us for good. I believe he is actually with us even more now. I hear him sometimes when I am laying in bed holding the sheet we used to cover him as we rushed him out of his comfortable home to a hospital. We had to move him there. He was struggling to breathe as fluid filled his lungs.
His sad departure created a somber arrival.
From a personal standpoint, I had been estranged from him for about 3 years due to a myriad of experience I choose not to expose at this point in time. Even through the estrangement, I was always close to him.
Thinking about him.
Wondering and hoping he reached out to someone to get some emotional support for all of the things he was feeling and had gone through.
Everyone needs counseling and therapy!
But this arrival was unique. I braced myself for the worst experience and at the same time, allowed myself to be vulnerable enough to choose the road less traveled.
And this road less taken was indeed a blessing….and it was not disguised.
For the first time, I got to meet my nieces and nephews. They are beautiful.
Their innocence, and kindness, and love….oh my! I was truly in a place of joy.
Seeing my siblings was so healing. We won’t always agree on how we express ourselves or our pain, but we were truly there for each other.
In this time of sadness, we were still able to smile, joke, and drink. Because when there is an impending death, sometimes alcohol, smiles and jokes are the only things that quench our need for numbness….
Just enough numbnimity to get us through the second…
At the forefront of my mind was my Rock and Pebble.
My wife and daughter were supporting me from a distance as they walked with me each day, checked up on me and said “I Love You” while their heart and soul were present but their physical selves, with arms wide open, prepared for my return.
And during this entire experience, I was reminded each day that I have a beautiful granddaughter. My daughter and son-in-law were my main support in the DR during this very difficult time.
I didn’t know when I would get to meet this new human and with my father’s impending departure, it was decided that I would make that trip to see him…
and my daughter’s family.
My daughter took care of me and made sure I ate breakfast each day even though I cussed her out for making me wake up early so as not to miss the breakfast window. I just wanted to sleep and cry, sleep, and cry.
Oh, and I was a little bit horny because there are so many hormonal changes that happens in your body as you are trying to process a forever-life-stop.
So my body was reacting, my brain was deactivating in some way, but my heart was fully there.
My daughter kept me balanced and her daughter brought me so much peace.
Holding this precious human was a reminder of trust, faith, and love.
The juxtaposition of me holding my two month old grand baby and me caring for my 69 year old dying father was visible.
The innocence on both sides. The look in their eyes…curious….tired. The amount of sleeping they both did. The learning of how to properly take in air….one breath at a time.
The need to be changed. The need to be patted on the back so bubbles would not form in their lungs. The desire to be held.
The trust. All they have/had was us. They had no choice but to trust.
And it is all so very complex as an adoptee who was raised by someone who was not part of their gene pool.
The emotions, the experience of not being raised by those who birthed her. The connection formed with this father and not the other father.
The way in which I process all of these emotions, plus past trauma, shaped how I responded to this tragedy. It is different from how their bios would process.
So I have to ask myself whether this Exit and Entry was inevitable.
With all the closeness it brought us, and all the tears we shed together. With the uniting of family; immediate and extended.
Was my dad orchestrating it all?
I hate to think or believe that this was purposeful. Or that there is a reason for everything.
I think things just happen. Like when when I heard him flatline from my hotel room a 5 minute drive away.
Why did he send me the signal at 5:54pm on July 6th? Why not to anyone else?
Is there a reason?
“Just give me a reason, just a little bit’s enough…”
But will it be?
If I am given a reason….I will surely want to know more.
So maybe there is not reason…maybe life is just life, and death is just death.
So in life…love, laugh, drink….have sex…copious amounts.
While you live…smile inside.
Laugh until tears come out the sides of your eyes.
Go on walks, stay home. Watch a show or movie on netflix.
Use your vibrator as often or as little as you want.
Marry or divorce Amazon.
Consentually hug your family, friends….a stranger.
Only apologize if you truly mean it.
Remember that there is no guidebook for forgiveness, grief, sex, love, education, allyship….
There is no guidebook for LIFE.
Just do YOU and do LIFE and remember that not every departure is a GOODbye….but sometimes “good” can come from saying “bye”.
Dad, I miss you, I love you.
Thank you for bringing us together!