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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Dear Dad

The anniversary week from hell begins today.

In a little under 12 hours from now, I received a panicked phone call from Aunt Anne. I didn't bat an eye when she asked if I could come over to help her. I had been lounging on the couch, watching Castle. I dashed upstairs to put some jeans on, virtually blubbering where I was going as I was heading out the door.

Christine called me before I even managed to pass her house on my way. I asked her if she wanted to come along. She was out her door before I finished pulling in her driveway.

The big old hole surrounding the one set of railroad tracks: normally I glide over it, carefully and precise. Instead, I veered wide because I was in too much of a hurry. The light turned red. I didn't have time to stop. But I didn't blow the light. I took the right curve to Page and dashed up Pleasant. Two stops signs and a yield sign were my only inhibitors then.

Aunt Anne had Aunt Kathy on the phone. You were lying on the dining room floor. Your head was against the door jam between the dining room and the kitchen.

I think back on it now and I cry. I didn't have time to cry then. I needed to remain collected, calm and in control until the emergency had passed.

Too much time spent on the phone with Aunt Kathy when we could have been calling 911. But Aunt Kathy told me what she had been explaining to Aunt Anne. Frankly, I think time was no longer of the essence. Those extra minutes on the phone wouldn't have made any difference in the outcome.

We got off the phone (and Aunt Kathy was on her way) and called 911.

It felt like forever before they arrived. I know it wasn't.

It felt like they were taking their sweet time getting you off the floor and into the chair.

I was embarrassed and yet comforted that Auggie, Jr. was one of the firemen on scene. Mick from down the street sent me a Facebook message to advise me that emergency vehicles were at my parent's house and he hoped everything was okay. Yes, I know they are, Mick, I'm here, too. No, everything isn't okay. We're transporting dad to ER.

I know why you wanted to remain laying down. I feel the pain in your head from the bleed when they sat you up. Is it possible that sitting you up made it bleed faster? I don't know.

I think we actually made it to the hospital before the ambulance did. The waiting was hard.

When the nurse came out to take us back to the family room so that the doctor could speak to us, I knew you were gone. Anne and Christine sat on one side of the room. I sat, alone, on the other.

I recall speaking with both Rae and Carrie that night. I also made the decision to put you on life support. It was important to me that everyone (your other daughters, your wife, your siblings, your grandchildren) have a chance to say goodbye to your semi-functioning body. It was important to me that you not die on Ron's birthday. So I opted to have them put you on a drug that would slow the bleeding. And they put you on a ventilator.

They moved you to ICU. Aunt Kathy arrived. She and I were in your room with the nurse, updating your information, when Dave arrived. I had them put me down as your contact, removing Digi-Guys. What good would it have been for them to call Digi-Guys in the middle of the night, dad? Or was that the point?

I received a fair rash of shit from the nurse and from the ICU doctor when he came in to examine you. They both knew that you didn't want any heroic efforts to save your life. I didn't consider what I was doing as heroic efforts to save your life. I considered it minor efforts to prolong it briefly.

But I saw your eyes when the doctor examined you. You weren't there. You were already gone, leaving nothing but a shell.

I pissed off Dave that night. I requested that he leave your ICU room. That was the start. It carried on when, back in the waiting area, we got into a discussion about faith and religion. Whatever you may have told him about your faith, I saw your faith in action. In this case, the lack of action. I could probably count on one hand the number of times you attended church~outside of special occasions like baptisms, confirmations, weddings, funerals... Mom took us to church when we were growing up. Your attendance was rare.

It insulted my soul that he even had the nerve to arrive there that evening. It hurt like crazy that he acted like he knew more about you than I did. The truth is, maybe he did know more about your "current" life. But not because I wasn't interested. Because you were always pushing me (us) away.

Did you think you were protecting us from the pain of your loss by pushing us away before you left?