It's Been 2 Years Since My Dad Died, and I'm Still Not OK
All I can remember was the overwhelming salty taste of tears. I’ve always hated that taste but anything tasted better than the dryness that consumed my mouth from the dehydration. It happened like you see in the movies, strangers came up, asking if I needed anything; it felt strange so I refused even though it felt like I had no water left in my body from all the crying.
Approximately 24 hours before the strangers, the dryness and the tears, I had no clue my life was about to change in the most dramatic way possible. I wondered what I would be doing right now if I weren’t there and that wasn’t happening. I wondered if I would be eating dinner with my family or at the gym.
Everything felt like it was in slow motion but it felt like everything happened so fast at the same time. Words came at me fast but motions were slow. I knew a total of four people around me. My mom, my cousin, our pastor and Scotty. I met so many people I’ll never speak to again. I met one man, Scotty, the nurse. I had never met a male nurse up until that point. He was my favorite of that night; he reminded me of my dad and I liked that he also had a sweet face; a face that carried the same look as everyone else in the ICU. A face that held concern and sadness and guilt. I never want to see that look again.
I got so many calls from family I hadn’t spoken to in months, one relative even years. Can’t remember what was said but I remember I was touched. Every time I reach back into the deep dark corner of my memory I store that night in, it becomes more and more foggy. Faces get more grey and there’s a haze that covers the floor, and rises every time I think back.
When I got there I was ushered into a room. A small waiting room, no TVs, just magazines. No one but my cousin and I occupied the small room. Neither of us wanting to sit, because we were too anxious, planning out our next steps, figuring out how we were supposed to rebuild our lives after this day. After almost five minutes, which felt like eternity, my mom came back and said it was time. All of the blood in my body drained. I was pale and felt faintly lightheaded, I didn’t know if I could even move. My brain couldn’t reach my feet to tell them to walk but somehow I did it anyway. The mindless moving of my feet, one in front of the other. I felt like a robot.
I couldn’t reach my thoughts and my thoughts couldn’t reach me. I felt so weak, as if the building was crumbling down all around me, pebbles and boulders weighing me down and I couldn’t do anything except not understand why this is happening to us, of all people. We were good people, why did God choose me?
Still putting one foot in front of the other, I couldn’t process the people talking at me. I couldn’t remember names and I couldn’t remember how to open my mouth and formulate a sentence. It felt like there was a force field around me shielding me from everything going on. I just wanted to get to where I was going and be there. I wanted to figure out how to fix everything that was happening. I wanted my boring life to be normal again. I wanted to go home and got to bed and wake up at 6 a.m. for school the next day. I wanted to have a night like every other night I have had in my entire life, but unfortunately it wouldn’t change, no matter how many times I prayed, and wished, and begged.
Finally getting to my destination I could barely catch my breath, it felt like I had just ran a mile, my heart was pounding and I can still remember not understanding why my chest was rising and falling so quick and deep. I couldn’t get enough air. I couldn’t breathe fast enough. I reached my destination, a place I never wanted to reach in my life, a place that no one ever wants to reach. As I walk I feel an entire tsunami of emotions ranging from confusion to anger to a deep, deep sadness that never really left my bones. As it crashed, it nearly knocked me over.
It was another small room. Once you walked through the door the nurse made you put on a mask and gloves. I refused. I wanted to feel. I didn’t want barriers. I walked past the curtain to see my best friend, the man I looked up to the most, the person I most aspired to be in my life lying down, unconscious in a hospital bed that looked about two sizes too small. He looked uncomfortable. I was mad about that. So many things protruding from his body, needles, patches with wires, arm bands and probably the worst of all; the breathing tube. That was my least favorite. He looked so helpless. Things happened, people moved around and all of a sudden my cousin left. My mom asked me a question, “Do you want to take out the breathing tube?”
The words just fell out of my mouth, at this point I still had no control over my mind and thoughts but that word just came out so suddenly. After that we were rushed out and rushed back in by Scotty. When we went in for the second time everyone exited. When we went back in for the second time, he didn’t have the big ugly thing covering his face. That was my guy. My dad.
I was able to see him and be there with a familiar look. I take ahold of his rough, heavy hand, another tidal wave washes over me. The sadness finally swallows me whole as I choke out words. “I love you, and I’m so sorry this is happening” I just remember rambling on, trying to make sure he knows how much he was loved by everyone in his life, not knowing whether or not he understood or if even heard me at all.
Two years after this day I can still fully feel all these emotions. It hurts. Every day. I’ve had a yearning to help people like me. Young adults, like me. When my dad died, I was 15 years old. How is a 15-year-old supposed to cope with something like that? Community. I need to know there’s more people like me. For the person reading this, you’re not alone. I know exactly how you feel. I am here. I’ve learned throughout the years he’s been gone that I need to vocalize that I’m not OK and I probably won’t be anytime soon. I won’t say I’m OK anymore because I’m not.
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