Dad passed away last night. Time of death was 11:19 p.m.
The important thing is that he didn’t suffer; he seemed comfortable and when it happened, he was surrounded by his family. And the fortunate thing was that, at the time, none of us realized that Charlotte hadn’t yet had a moment alone with him to say her final goodbyes and make her peace. She was able to do so after she got home from work, and within a couple minutes of her finishing up…he was gone.
So…was he waiting for her to get home so that all of us could be there? Was he just waiting for Charlotte to say goodbye? Was it God’s will, or just a freak coincidence? I don’t know. I guess I’ll never know.
The good thing was that my Mom’s best friend was there with us when it happened; Mary Lou used to be an E.R. nurse so when she saw him in his last few minutes, she knew that the end was immanent and she stalled her exit so that she could be there to help. So, while she called hospice and dealt with them, Mom, Stephen, Charlotte, and I just got to sit in the room with Dad’s body. We talked and we cried and kidded around; that last one may be a bit strange, but that’s how we’ve always been and it’s how we always handle things.
I had to make three phone calls last night; I’d promised Lauren, Jenny, and David individually that I’d call them if anything happened. Unfortunately, just because I had to do it three times didn’t make it any easier, and the conversation was pretty much the same every time: I’d call, they’d answer and ask what was up, I’d say that Dad was dead, they’d say they were sorry, I’d start recapping all that had happened that night and then break down sobbing, they’d listen to me cry for a bit, I’d manage to tell a little bit more of the story and admit that I didn’t know what was going to happen next, they’d encourage me to not worry about going in to work the next morning and to try to get some rest, I’d say I would try, they’d tell me that they love me and please, please call them in the morning if I want to talk, and to not hesitate to let them know if I or my family needs anything.
And I did end up not going to work after all; I called four hours before my shift was supposed to start and explained to the opening manager (to whom my GM had apparently already explained my situation) that Dad had passed away the night before and I didn’t feel up to coming in. He reassured me that it was no problem and he’d get someone to cover me. It turns out that I was already scheduled off on Sunday and Monday, so we agreed that I’d try to come back on Tuesday. I’m pretty sure that I’ll be ready to go back by then…not truly positive, but it’s hard to know in this situation.
My family spent the day taking it easy; my brother went off to hang out with a friend and I haven’t seen him since this morning. Charlotte decided that she was going to work. Mom and I were going to go to Wal Mart just because we felt like we needed to do something normal. Charlotte didn’t last very long at work, so she ended up coming home and going shopping with us. Stephen needed to be with his bro, but I think that Mom, Char, and I needed to be with each other.
All day, I’ve randomly switched between being okay and not doing well. I’ll be fine for a while, and then something little will set me off: Charlotte asked if I knew where her iPod was, and, without thinking, I replied back, “It’s in Dad’s room.” When we were at Wal Mart, we didn’t have to buy yogurt or applesauce, two things that we always had to buy because they were easy for Dad to eat. When we were putting leftovers from dinner away, I realized that I could put some containers on the refrigerator shelf that we reserved for Dad’s food and chilled medication. And every single time I walk past “Dad’s room,” I expect to see him in there. The second and the third one caused a lump to rise up in my throat, and the first and fourth ones actually reduced me to tears.
The good news is that we have an excellent support system; all day, we’ve had friends stopping by to visit, bearing words of encouragement and comfort food, or just calling to assure us that they’re here for us if we need them. Jenny brought Zane over and I got to chase him around and play with him and introduce him to Olivia; that whole encounter was especially nice because having fun and chatting with them let me laugh and have fun and forget how sad I am.
The thing that keeps getting to me is that there was all this crazy shit in my life relating to Dad’s illness that I came to see as normal, like him being sick, his caregiver being here five days a week, hospice workers visiting the house, and my family having to plan our lives and schedules around his care. And now that he’s gone…things will never be “normal” again. Yes, eventually, we’ll all find a new normal, but things are going to be so dramatically different from here on out…it’s just very hard to comprehend it all.
We’re all going to be okay; years of taking care of Dad and dealing with the situation has taught us to be strong and roll with the punches. But none of us are quite there yet. Including me.