It’s unusual that
I don’t have words. That I’m having such a difficult time spewing out words in place of the confused, muddled thoughts that are in my head. That I can’t pretend I’m fine even if I’m not. I can’t even begin to express myself in any understandable fashion.
That, too, is untrue I guess. I’ve written a few poems. Put together a slideshow of music and pictures. Uhm. Hmm. That’s about it. So. Mostly true. *sigh*
Oh look, once again I’ve started in the middle of the end. Or the end of the middle. Or. Not at the beginning. I never can find the beginning. I’m beginning to fear that’s where my problem lays. Lies? Is.
So. My father died on Tuesday. (Oh, almost 6 months to the day that M passed away? Really? I hadn’t noticed.) His given name is James, but I tended to refer to him as Elmer in casual conversation. Why? Jim or James was too formal. Dad was too foreign. We only spoke a few times a year. Saw each other even less. Maybe once at Christmas, sometimes more if my brother had a get together for his kids’ birthday, etc. I had seen him at least once this past year, the last time he fell especially ill and we thought he wasn’t going to pull through. Funny, how we make time only when we think there’s no more time to be made…fucking hilarious.
I don’t even know where to begin this. Or why I’m trying. Maybe to
clear my conscience prove who I really am? Oh, the never ending struggle for self realization, self understanding, figuring it all out. I don’t know why I feel the need to beat around the bush. Maybe because the bush is on fire and getting too close is sure to ignite me, not in a good way.
Elmer, who I’m apparently going to refer to as dad and/or Jeb now, was probably more complicated than I ever gave him credit for. My recollection of him, however, is that of an un-involved father. And let me be clear- these are my recollections, my thoughts, my experiences. My siblings and I definitely had different home life experiences, and I readily admit that I spent most of my life seeing most everything through other peoples’ lenses. Not because I was forced to, just because I never knew/bothered/understood I could put on different glasses to see varying perspectives. And I’m also not implying that the views I, or anyone else, held/have are right or wrong. We all experience what we experience and I live my whole life now trying to remember that most everyone’s experiences and perspectives are valid as they are going through them. I guess all of that Trauma Informed Care training I had at my last real job sunk in somewhere along the line. That being said, I also know that just because I remember something a certain way doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the way it was in the grand scheme of things.
As with every parent/child, there were shifts in our relationship from beginning to end. Maybe not for the best, but generally for the better? I was never proud of my feelings towards him, for one reason or another. (Mostly cuz that’s how I operate: conflicted about everything, always.) And you can best believe I’m full of remorse, regret and downright anger at myself for things I’d rather not get in to right here. I’d like to say that I did my best. But I didn’t. I avoided, put off, evaded, made excuses. Mostly I did what I do with most confusing/uncomfortable/conflicting feelings, thoughts, or situations…shoved it all below the surface in to a tiny little box marked “deal with later”. Funny, how time capsules remain under ground if the one who buried them never figures out how to read the map that leads them back to the right spot…
Have I stopped making sense yet?
I do apologize. I am relatively numb. The buzzing, every nerve ending on fire kind of numb. I went back to work today because it’s what is supposed to be done, not because I felt in any way ready or competent to be there. Every now and again today I found myself thinking “oh, just pull out” as I watched trucks barreling down the road while I was leaving one appointment to get to the next. These are not unfamiliar thoughts to my head. But they are unexpected. But I mean. At least they break up the numb a bit? (c’mon. Laugh with me…) I can’t stop to think about anything too long but also can’t let my brain be idle too long either. And of course, I have therapy tomorrow, and will have to answer that all-too-familiar “time for hospital?” question, no doubt. It’s not. Probably for all the wrong reasons…I have clients in most of the ones I’d prefer to go. I’d have to arrange pet-sitting. I’m not sure my current insurance would cover all of it. I don’t want to add even more extra work to my co-workers, who have been FUCKING AMAZING about me taking time off. So confusing. (I’m apparently still living a bit in the land where my co-workers…co-SUPERVISORS, actually…would literally sneak past my office at 10:45pm as I was still typing up reports and not even acknowledge me for fear I’d gawd-forbid ask them to maybe stay and help me for a few minutes so I could get out of there by 1am (despite my shift ending exactly when theirs did, at 11pm…) And for fuck’s sake, I wouldn’t even dare ask them to help with the difficult, detailed reports- just maybe have them field the constant interrupting phone calls or write up a quick shift note, or make a round of the building for me. omg, apparently I’m still super bitter…oops.)
So. Yeah. When my co-workers and supervisors don’t blink an eye and even encourage me to go take care of what I needed to take care of, despite it adding to their work load at probably the WORST time of the quarter..it’s like this little idyllic dream bubble wrapped around me as I drown in the recurring nightmare I seem to be trapped in this past year. Not to say there aren’t other good things. Oh, there so definitely are. Awesome, amazing, great things. And I’m grateful and aware of the wonderful things, too. I’m mindful of the fact that those things keep me afloat and functioning on a day to day basis when the overwhelming urge to curl up and stop treading try to take over. I am beyond fortunate to have the support that I have, and my ever growing fear is that I will never again be well enough to give back what I get…
So. Uh. Anyways. My brother, the one who has been dad’s primary care taker since…hmmm…since he needed a caretaker/roommate/etc…informed us that he wasn’t doing so well on Monday morning, that he wouldn’t go to dialysis and the doctor was trying to keep him comfortable. Hospice was recommended, as they felt he was a good candidate. My aunt messaged a little later after talking to his doctor too, and said it sounded like dad had given up. My brother visited i the afternoon and discovered he hadn’t been to dialysis in a while, wasn’t really eating much, and wasn’t very coherent. I attempted to call the nursing home because earlier in the day I had planned to get down to see him on Thursday, but schedule conflicts was maybe pushing it back til Sunday and I wanted to see if they could give me any more information on how dire the situation was. I mean, he’d been ill for quite a while but always rallied and pulled through last minute. Long story short (ha), they couldn’t give me any information because I wasn’t on his list of approved information-giving people. Gotta love HIPPA. Well. C let us know that the home called around 7pm and they had given dad some meds to make him more comfortable and hopefully ease his breathing. I consulted with my supervisor, arranged to have my on-call duties covered, and PK drove me down.
I’m not sure when exactly we got in. Maybe 11ish? You know, you try to prepare yourself for how it’s gonna be. He wasn’t looking in the best shape last I saw him, and I certainly didn’t expect him to look better. But. When you don’t see a person often, you forget how they look now compared to how they looked when you saw them all of the time, ya know? He didn’t look like I remembered. And. To be honest…it was like walking in to M’s hospital room, minus the machines. He wasn’t hooked up to anything but oxygen, so it was quieter. But. Otherwise, it was eerily similar, his breathing and the way his hands were moving.
I don’t know if he recognized that it was me, really. He did open his eyes for a little bit. And later, he did seem to be holding on to my hand for a few minutes as well. We sat with him for a couple of hours and then the nurses gave him some more meds and got him situated more comfortably. In theory, I had to work and be on-call the next day (later that day), so we drove home. I think I got in around 2:30am or so. Slept some, and woke to the phone ringing around 7am. C letting me know he had passed shortly before.
I failed so many times to try harder, missed so many opportunities to make things different over the
years decades. That’s on me. But. I’m glad at least I could be there that night. Could tell him that my siblings were thinking of him and would be there soon to see him. That I could, as they say, represent? Maybe that’s my point in this post? To let those that cared about him know someone was there with him, close to the end. That he wasn’t alone. Maybe not who he would have wanted. I don’t know.
Maybe that’s why this is so difficult to write? I don’t want it to sound like I’m saying “Hey, I was there and you weren’t!” That is NOT at all what I mean. I know several of my siblings would’ve been there in an instant if they could have been. It just panned out that on that particular Monday, my life was a little more flexible than theirs. And I’d be inclined to not say anything at all, except someone mentioned to me that it might bring others a bit of comfort, to know someone was with him. I hope I brought him some unidentified comfort in those final hours. I owed him that much, in the very least.