As I sit here, writing in Air Force blue, I am reminded of the sharp and painful dream that yanked me to the surface of what is what’s left of my life.
You see, 2 years ago I lost my father suddenly. Well I say suddenly…..but really it was a dragged out painful affair. My dad did have heart problems, and he always said he knew when he was going to die, that an angel told him he’d be sitting in a chair. He almost made it to his favorite chair under his favorite tree to read and drink coffee.
I was always a Daddy’s girl; still am. His death has been the most painful part of my daily existence to this day. His absence. This larger than life man reduced down to a few bits of ash.
How is that even fair? Or even possible? How could someone so amazing just……disappear. I carry a small part of his ash with me and his last thumbprint ever around my neck. I also carry over 30 years of memories of this amazing man.
I awoke this morning having a panic attack, sweating and yearning, for in my dream he was RIGHT THERE….leading me up a hill and smiling and calling me Baby Girl, but I couldn’t quite grab his hand. What I wouldn’t give to hear that again. Or when I would call and he would answer the phone knowing it was me, “Yo, Ritta!” The simple things. The small things. That’s what I miss. One more hug. One more I love you. But, in the end I guess it’s never enough. There will never be a time when I wouldn’t say “Just please give me 5 more minutes.”
There was a huge hole cut out of my soul the day my dad died. A crevice so deep and wide that no one or nothing can ever cross it again. I’m sure if he was alive, he could tell me what happened at each stage of that rocks life. Pressure. Water. Heat. How each layer formed a new place in time. Now my dad joins that place.
I guess I just wanted the world to know that I had the BEST dad ever. He was in the Air Force. Caused trouble for them in Vietnam. He wrecked or lost so many vehicles being silly (or shooting the snakes that crawled up in the heat of the just empty jeep, forgetting it would blow the jeep up also ), that in the end he walked the jungles with his dog to find the VietCong in the trees. Only recently did I find out that my dad, who guarded the airfields, would show the two warring factions in Vietnam and Cambodia where the other was hiding so they could shoot at each other while the American soldiers laughed. A human video game. Until the day the bad guys decided no matter the Americans were showing them where to shoot, that they would shoot at the Americans, and my dad watched a good friend die. He never told me that. He told us plenty of stories that were funny, made his kids laugh. I’m sure inside he felt like I do now. He watched his younger brother and his mother pass on before him, and yet he laughed, and loved. and gave, and was a hero to me. There will never be words that adequately express the hole left in the wreckage of my life.
If you read my blog, then you know I have had many strokes and have a brain aneurysm and that I have all the signs and symptoms of not just pheochryocytoma (cancer on your adrenal glands), but something else is also wrong. I have lost the ability to walk any distance, fall all the time, and generally am getting tired of not being able to be the Emergency and Trauma nurse I have always been. Then, it comes back to me, my dad was sick and dying and KNEW it, yet he embraced life full on. He laughed. He made us laugh. He was a father to my son when my own child’s father turned his back on him. He loved. He gave. He cared about everyone BUT himself. He didn’t complain. He tried to make things easier for us. Yet here I sit full of hate and rage at a disease I didn’t ask for, but he didn’t ask for prostate cancer. His neighbors say the last thing he was doing was joking and laughing with the next door neighbor before the angels came to take him home. This is where I choose to believe my dad died, free among his birds, in his yard, on his terms, not the horrible two weeks and brutal decisions that had to be made. I will say though they tried to throw me out I refused and held my Daddy’s hand while they removed his breathing tube, his last access to “life,” and we had to wait and watch the rest of his body die.
And here I think about my own mortality. Will I be that brave? Can I hold it together for my children? Have I been a good parent? Will they have stories and memories as fond of me as I do of my dad?
With so much ugly and hate in this world, we should all follow his example and give without hesitation, and to love unconditionally. After losing all my worldly possessions, and most of my pride, I allowed a very good friend to post my story on Go Fund Me. I have a long and hard battle ahead. Two very black hearted and evil nurses where I used to work six months ago, tried to claim that my Go Fund Me was a fraud and I was hurting people. How do you hate someone you haven’t seen in six months? I know they haven’t crossed my mind…..until that. Then I had to go an investigation that caused a lot of my “friends” to unfriend me, thinking that because the site was down it must be true. Well, that site is back up after a thorough investigation, and found to be the truth. If you don’t know my story, that is a great place to learn a bit about me. I will say I didn’t handle it as my dad would have. I was hate filled and rageful. How dare they accuse me of lying when I have lost EVERYTHING from this illness.
Yet here in the quiet still of my bedroom, with my two chihuahuas snoring with me, and my heart rate calming down, I see clearly. My dad was leading me to follow his example. To be brave. To be honest. To love without reserve. To be grateful of every moment I have left and smile along the way.
Isn’t it funny how even after death, my father is still such a force and presence in my life, that he has given me the grace to forgive those that spoke ill of me. The courage to get up and face the day. The resilience to try and be the best mom I can under the circumstances we have to work with, and pray that I also gave my children a small piece of my dad. Thank you Daddy for hanging around to kick me in the butt. Sometimes it takes pain to see beauty. Pom La Koon Pops.
If you would like to visit the Go Fund Me page to just look and read, or maybe donate to a stranger that could be the one to save you, or may have already done so, please take a few minutes, read it or don’t, but I beg you to please just take the one second it takes to hit that “share” button on your Facebook or Twitter. Maybe your donation or your sharing the message will be the one that saves a life. How would that be as a final message to leave……….hope and goodwill. Here’s the link, just a click away…..Pay It Forward