This past Friday was 2 years since my Daddy died. 2 years without seeing him. Without hearing his voice. Without feeling his hug. I realize that death is a part of life and that I’m very blessed to have been so close to him. Yet, I can’t shake the fact that I feel guilty. Why? Hell, I don’t know. For everything. For nothing. My brain won’t shut up. My heart won’t stop crying. I feel like my mind is fixing to explode into a million pieces and each one will be a sliver of a thought that is so loud that it seems to be screaming in my head. I can’t sleep. When I do, the sound of silence feels like it’s suffocating me in my sleep.
Daddy died February 7, 2018. I was pretty much housebound and miserable all of 2017. I had emergency spine surgery in a December of that year and I was finally able to do more. But, for quite awhile, I couldn’t walk without a walker or wheelchair. Couldn’t stand up straight. Couldn’t drive and couldn’t stand to ride in a car either. My mental health was terrible. My dad’s health was deteriorating in 2017 too. He was in and out of hospitals. He fell a lot. I felt terrible that I wasn’t more of a help to my mom. My youngest brother and my sister were truly amazing. As were my niece and nephew. My son, his wife and my daughter and her husband made sure to be there too. But I wasn’t. Oh, I tried to visit him in the hospital whenever he went. I’ve always talked to my mom on a regular basis, and I talked to dad on the phone quite a bit when I called for mom. I got angry with myself for not being able to help and I’m embarrassed to say that I sometimes took that anger out on the people that I love.
My poor mom was trying to take care of her husband and deal with her youngest daughter not only being in terrible pain, but being a needy brat. I wanted my mom because I didn’t feel good. I wanted to be there for my dad, but since I couldn’t, I just pouted and retreated farther into my own head. I very seldom left the house at all. When I did, I had such anxiety that I truly felt as if I were Alice and I’d fallen in the rabbit hole. It was a terrible cycle that I couldn’t seem to break. I’ll skip a lot of details and just say that December 26, 2017 was a huge turning point. I had emergency spinal decompression surgery. It was so wonderful to be able to walk! I have quite a bit of nerve damage, but, I can walk. My mind was still all messed up with depression and anxiety. I was riddled with fear. And guilt. My mom came to the hospital the morning of my surgery. While we were in pre-op, she got a call that Daddy had to be taken to the hospital. I’ll never forget seeing her cry as she tried to decide where she needed to be. With my dad, of course. I had Adrian with me and I would be ok. I was so worried about my dad. And my mom. The surgeon said that when I woke up in recovery, I started crying and asking if my dad was alive. I don’t remember that.
I was home recovering. My mom and dad came to see me a couple of times, but it was very apparent that Daddy was getting worse. My sister came to see my parents (she still lived in Florida then). She went with mom to all of Daddy’s appointments. I was so grateful to her. But, inside my head, I was jealous too. I had always been the one that was here for them. I lived close and I considered myself their “caretaker”. I’m not proud of my feelings, believe me. I look back now and I’m so in awe of both my sister and my mom. They were amazing. And, they treated me way better than I think I deserved. Anyway, it was decided that the best thing would be for Daddy to enter Hospice. They chose a home Hospice that was phenomenal.
My dates are kind of iffy here, as this time was a blur, but my mom’s sister, my Aunt Sheila, and my cousin Caitlyn decided to drive down from Indiana to surprise my mom. They were a Godsend and I’m so thankful that they were here. Anyway, I think they had only been here for a day or two when my brother called me and said that the hospice nurse said that we needed to prepare. I needed to be there, so Johnnie came over, picked me up and drove me to my parents house. I remember that my brother Eric and his gf were there. So were my mom, my aunt, my cousin and Johnnie. Daddy was in the bedroom. He wasn’t talking and he didn’t seem very comfortable. But, it was obvious that he was aware, because he always turned towards my mom’s voice. I laid in the bed with him. My niece and her husband came over that night. So did Jennie. She drove in from Glen Rose once she heard he wasn’t doing well. Anyway, that evening was surreal. It was great to see my aunt and cousin. It was especially wonderful to see my mom smiling and laughing with them.
After awhile, everyone left. It was just Mom, Aunt Sheila, Caitlyn, Daddy and me. Mom had plans to drive Caitlyn to the airport in the morning. She needed to get back to work. Aunt Sheila was going to stay longer. Aunt Sheila slept in the guest room. Caitlyn slept on a recliner in the living room. Mom told me to take her bed (she had a twin in their room and a Daddy had a hospital bed) since she had to leave early and I wasn’t able to sit up. I could only stand or lay flat. Daddy was on hourly medication, so I volunteered to do that so mom could rest. I had a little log book that the nurse set up and just set my phone alarm for every hour.
Sometime before midnight, a Daddy’s breathing changed. It was a horrific loud rattle. I tried to moisten his mouth with a swab, but nothing stopped that rattle. I was laying next to him in his room thinking that I’d hear that rattle forever. And then I didn’t. No rattle. No cough. Nothing. It was the loudest nothing that I’ve ever heard in my life. I pulled the sheet over my head and tried to pretend this wasn’t happening. I pinched my legs so hard that made them bleed. The silence was deafening. I thinking I cowed under the blankets for a full 5 minutes before I finally got up. I went to my dad. He was gone.
I’ll continue this later. But, I need to say this. It took months for me to quit hearing that rattle when I layed down. But worse than the rattle? The silence. It was terrifying. That silence still wakes me up sometimes. I said I felt guilty earlier. Why? Because sometimes I can go a whole day and not think of my Daddy. How selfish is that? I feel guilty because I was such an entitled brat with my mom and my sister. I AM SO THANKFUL FOR THEM. I’m so grateful that they didn’t give up on me. They always seem to take care of things when I’m hiding. In my house. In my head. Just hiding from the world. I’m trying so hard to quit hiding. But, I’ve sucked at it this past week. And, I miss my Dad.
The top picture is me with my dad. The bottom picture is my sister with my mom and dad.