My father is gone
I placed my dad into hospice on my 58th birthday, July 25, 2022. I spent the next month by his side as much as I could; it still feels like a dream.
People pulled me away and I never ever wanted to leave. I knew time was limited and I kept hope alive that he would get better. Denial. Refusal to accept the inevitable.
But I did leave almost every night after I’d said my goodbyes (just in case) and prayed he’d be there the next morning.
My dad died on Thursday, August 11, 2022, at 5:30 pm. I knew it would be that day, and I refused to leave his side. His breathing was different. Labored. Rhythmic. Heavy. Deep. Loud. But... I decided to walk down the hospital hall to get more coffee, confident I wouldn't miss his passing. On my way back, he stopped breathing, just like that. By the time I entered the room, my sister was by his side. The nurse looked at me with sad eyes. What happened? My sister said “I don't know. He just stopped. Just like that.” I thought I saw one last heartbeat in his neck. But... He was GONE and I KNEW IT. I felt terrible that he had died. I FAILED HIM. (Part of me felt I killed him.) I held his stiff body and words came out without me understanding why, and I couldn’t stop them. I’m sorry daddy. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. Oh, daddy, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. Oh, I love you. I'm so sorry.
It didn't feel right to let him die, but it was beyond my control, and I just gave up and let him die. And he left, and I let him go, and I prayed that God existed and that heaven was real and he was there. For if I loved him, and if I forgave him for every single painful thing he said and did, certainly God did too, right?
Now, I feel one of my life's biggest allies is gone.
As much as he was awful and terrible, and abusive too at times, there was a connection that was stronger than all the crap that I had to deal with. He was not the ideal dad. He had tried hard to be better since my son was born. He changed, and that to me was living amends. And when he cried in his hospice bed asking me (trusting me) if he had treated everyone OK I assured him he did. I told him everyone loves him and he’s been really great. He cried real tears. Choked up, he looked into my eyes and asked me, Are you sure? Yes, dad. You have been really good to everyone, here at the hospital and in your life.
Yes, he gave me many moments of pain, abuse, sadness, and horribleness. Part of it was his disease. Part of it was his nature.
Yet, by his side, I saw his true nature: a kind, generous man who didn't understand how to be vulnerable and intimate, a little boy who loved his mother and sisters -- not all of whom loved him back the same way.
I can write about his last moments another time. Today I am hanging on to my family with tense, terribly fragile strings of yarn. And my grip is sliding. One strand already snapped. Will there be more?
I’m wondering who I want in my life now. I’m free to move on. My dad is gone and I have no reason to stay in Milwaukee other than I want my son to finish high school in Shorewood. Then I will be 100% free and I don’t know if I will stay.
Evaluating my friendships lately. I am with friends, in their homes, or they are in mine, and I step outside of the experience and ask myself, why? Why am I friends with this person these people whose sofa which I am sunk into at this very moment?
I'm cutting ties with anyone who makes me feel shitty about myself. I can do that alone, thank you. I want no more to feel like shit. I want no more to live like I am less than you like I am compromising like I am acquiescing like I am not living my truths.
Right now, I'm not sure who I want to keep in my life anymore. Oliver is the only person that is on the list of people I want in my life so far. I plan to evaluate all my relationships this year. Life is short, and I want to live my truth.
Do you really like me?
Do you really care about me?
Do we share the same values?
Are you competing with me?
Are you jealous of me?
Are you judging me?
Laughing at me?
Trying to bring me down sometimes?
Know better than me?
Want to keep your edge above me?
Are you there for me?
Are you invested like I am?
Do you see what I see?
Why am I here?
WHAT DO I REALLY WANT TO BE DOING AT THIS VERY MOMENT?
WHY HAVE I SETTLED?