One year ago, If I only knew what I’d wake up to the next morning – I would have spent my evening a little different.
May 28th, 2017, my life changed significantly. In a way, you’ll never understand until you lose a “parent”. Even in the absence from my life, he was my father. A part of me. I was a part of him. He was always present in my heart – even when he didn’t know how to be present in my life.
That morning, I’d woke up to a phone call – while sitting in my pajamas, on my bed and through the heavy breathing and sobs from his wife, I’d hear “he’s gone Kristen. He’s gone.” My response “are you sure?”.
Crazy right? I was hoping he was snowed on morphine or she was “assessing” him wrong. I wanted to scream at her to do CPR. To call 911, to do something. Deep down, I knew. It was done, it was inevitable. He had been on hospice, this is what we knew was coming. Even when I was in straight up denial the entire time.
On this day, one year ago, she held the phone up to his ears. I pleaded with him to hold on eight more days. I’d be there in eight more days.
As silly as it sounds, I had this picture in my head of what June 5th was going to look like. I’d go to his house, a house I honestly had no clue what it looked like, but in my head there was four brick stairs on his front porch. I’d go, sit on the stairs with him and we’d talk. About my life, the weather, my kids. I actually had been ready with pictures of the kids I’d been pulling aside to take to him, on June 5th. We’d go out to dinner, Olive Garden, because it was his favorite. Or that’s what he told me.
Instead, on June 5th, I’d get picked up from the airport, after a long flight of nervousness and tears, where people looked at me curious, by a friend and she’d drive me to his apartment where his wife prepared a mini memorial knowing I’d be there.
No brick stairs, no long talks, no dinner.
Several months prior, I had already jumped on a flight because he was very sick in the hospital. While he knew I was there – he was not well, and we didn’t have those moments. He didn’t even remember me being there once he was off of his meds. I knew I needed to go back. I knew he was sick. I knew he was dying. I don’t know if it was selfishness or self-preservation, but over and over I’d say – “this summer I’ll go see him”. Damnit. This summer never came. Well, it came, and it went, and he wasn’t in it anymore. He was gone. We, and all that we could have been, were Gone.
How did I let this get away?
On this day, one year ago, I knew he needed to hear me say “I forgive you, and I love you” and threw my tears, I spoke as clearly as I’d speak to a stranger – with strength and firmness in my voice…. I told him it was okay. I wasn’t angry. I told him what he needed to hear. Then I reminded him. EIGHT more days. That’s it. Hold on, eight more days. June 5th. That’s all. Through his labored respirations, and clearly agonizing last moments, on this day, one year ago, he said “I love you and I’m sorry”. That, one year ago, was the last time we spoke.
It was good, but I wasn’t ready.
If I would have only known, one year ago, I would have just kept talking. I would have been okay with hearing him Breath as I told
Him all about my life. About my kids, my husband, my dogs. I don’t think I would have hung up. Honestly, if I would have known, I would have gotten on a plane right then, to be at his side. Not that it would have mattered much. I’d already waited way too long.
This week has been torture, honestly. Each day has been harder than the next as I’ve so desperately wanted to avoid May 28th. Every morning it’s been physically painful for me to roll out of bed.
I’ve tried so hard to keep going. To fake it. This weekend, I’ve filled my days with fun and friends and food. Distractions work – but only so much. I’ve had a constant headache and stuffy nose and worn my sunglasses longer than needed because my eyes have been puffy. I’ve been held by my husband as I’ve sobbed in the dining room, trying so hard not to collapse on the floor. I’ve tried to pull my shit together to make it through another day. It’s not been easy. One year, feels just as painful as day one. How is that? Is that normal?
Truth is, I’m a mess. I’m regretful, I’m sad, I’m angry, I’m annoyed. My heart hurts so, so bad.
I know, there will be other people who read this, who are hurting just as bad as I am. They too, lost a husband, a father, a son. I can’t promise to reach out to you tomorrow. As I’ll be desperately trying to take breaths enough To make it through my day. But, I’ll be thinking of each of you, knowing this day isn’t easy for you either. And I’m sorry for that.
As cliche as it sounds, I’ll use this time as a reminder to make every single moment count. As, I never want to live any relationship I have ever again, full of “what ifs” and “should Haves”.
I miss you Steve. I never knew it was possible to miss something or someone so terribly that you never fully had. I do, though. I really really miss you.
Look after us.