Seven Days.

by Risa Green

 

My life changed on a Saturday morning with a phone call. My father …. hospital…heart attack….ventilator. It was Halloween. I was three thousand miles away. I booked a plane ticket for a red eye that night; I had already missed the only other flight of the day. More phone calls. My brother, my uncle, my mom, the doctor. I found a hotel near the hospital and called to make a reservation. How many days? I didn’t know. I couldn’t think. My husband took the phone away from me. Three days, he told the agent. Maybe longer, but let’s book three for now. More phone calls. Not looking good…not optimistic…still not stabilized. I tried to pack, but what? His birthday – his birthday is in four days. I cried violently; a wild, primal, shaking cry, like no cry I’d ever experienced before. My children were terrified. It’s Halloween, they whispered to my husband. Are we still allowed to have fun? More phone calls. Nothing else we can do…we want to make him comfortable…let him go in peace. By four-thirty, my father was gone.

 

Somehow, I pasted a smile on my face and went to a Halloween party. Somehow, I took my children trick-or-treating. Somehow, I walked through the airport and found my brother in the waiting area. Somehow, we boarded the plane. I barely remember any of it. I must have been giving off an aura of vulnerability, because I remember thinking that strangers – the TSA inspector, the guy I bought a water from at the airport, the flight attendant – were being unusually gentle with me. On the plane, I listened to my iPod and cried in the dark. I must have slept a little, because my neck hurt when the captain started his descent into Philadelphia.

 

At five am, my brother, his wife and I rented a car and drove to our hotel. We ate breakfast at a diner. At nine, we went to the funeral home. The director had been our next-door neighbor for twenty years. I used to go swimming in his pool. I used to flirt with his son. He looked exactly the same. He said that we did, too. We picked out a coffin. Dark wood with a Star of David on top.

 

We drove to my father’s apartment. He moved a few years ago, and neither I nor my brother had ever visited him there. It was small and sad. I hadn’t talked to him since Father’s Day in June. I hadn’t seen him since May. We met him at a children’s museum in Philly. My son refused to give him a kiss. He hadn’t looked good then; puffy face and shaking hands. He said he wasn’t drinking anymore. I knew he was lying. I would have called him on his birthday. I almost called him the week before, but I knew he wouldn’t answer. He only answered on his birthday, and on Father’s Day. His birthday was in three days. I had been waiting for it. I still loved him so much.

 

I barely knew him the last fifteen years. Friends appeared whom I hadn’t known existed. Clothes I didn’t recognize were in his drawers. An email account I thought he never checked was active. He’d saved the ticket from the children’s museum. He had a picture of my kids from last year’s holiday card in his wallet. He loved you so much, said a woman I’d never met before. She had been the last one to see him alive.

 

actionjackson03
11.18.09

I'm very sorry for your loss. I can't imagine dealing with the death of a parent or other close loved one when you've got kids to care for, but somehow you do it. Good thoughts for you.

cyn
11.18.09

Sorry for your loss Risa.

momto3boys
11.17.09

Risa, I too feel your pain. My life also changed on Sunday morning just about dawn. I got a call as well, my Dad was in the hospital. I said car accident? they said no. they didn't tell me what really happened. I had to contact my ex-step mother to find out (as she put it, "your Dads DEAD!") pretty horrifying! And I too felt that exact same uncontrollable shaking cry like never before coupled with the lean against the wall which quickly turned into me sliding down the wall to the floor screaming NO! NO! NO!...you see my Dad and i were estranged for about 6 yrs after he remarried. He never knew my oldest son, nothing. then at my grandpas funeral in late 2002 we met again. he instantly took my oldest son in his arms and never let go again. For three years he was THE BEST BUMPA (grandpa) anyone could ever ask for. the sleepovers, ice cream trips, pizza making, walks, t-ball games..all there, for everything, never missed a one. then came my second son and he was even more attached. My Dad was just 57 years old when he too suffered a fatal heart attack. That very weekend prior we had unknowingly conceived our third boy (I believe he is a blessing from Bumpa. He never did get to meet my 3rd son but I think when he is sound asleep in his crib his Bumpa makes him laugh and giggle. We spoke probably 10 times a day by phone or in person and never went a day without. Sadly the week he passed I saw him on a Thursday and got tied up in life that week and never spoke to him again EVER. Early Sunday morning at around 2 am he passed away after desperately calling 911. He was gone before the ambulance even arrived. THE saddest day of my life! I deeply believe in God now, something I probably didn't before. It is the only thing that gets you through knowing that he is in a better place. When you lose your Dad, your protector, nothing ever again feels the same. When people go sour or friends walk away you always have your Dad. When he is gone you feel like someone dropped you in the middle of outer space with no rope. you are just aimlessly floating, going no where. so unfathomable! The anniversary of his death is in 2 days (November 19, 2006). I miss my Daddy and I am almost 36 years old! :o( God bless you during your very trying times and know and be comforted by knowing you are NOT alone. xoxo

mom2five
11.17.09

I am deeply saddened by your loss. Its ironic, that I too, just returned to work today, from my stepmoms, who i loved very much, funeral. Though I left last wednesday as soon as i could arrange to miss work, who would watch my youngest,etc. She was only 42 yrs old. Her and my father were in a horrible accident and she didn't make it. I cannot begin to explain the heartache that I feel. I'm at work and don't want to be here. It doesn't feel right. Me and mys siblings had to take control of all the things my father just couldn't while trying to console this devastated,very broken man, whom I love like no other. I had to be as strong as i could for him, I was the closest one, you see. It was so hard to leave but I had to return to work. Yesterday, I had to get up and make breakfast for my boys and try to seem normal, because you're right we don't get 7days.When do we get to mourn? And isn't it necessary so that we may attempt to actually 'be' back to normal instead of pretending? I'm still so broken myself, but I do hope you have found some comfort and peace.

Jodester100
11.17.09

I am sorry for your loss as well. I know all too well how you may be feeling. My mom came to see me last April. I was ready to give birth to my second child and she was there to be my biggest supporter and to care for my 2 year old while I was in the hospital. When Ian was born, she came to see him. Three days later, she had a massive heart attack at our home and we lost her. She was only 59. I know the profound feeling of loss. Thank goodness we have our children to keep us busy and to keep us grounded. Again, I am sorry for your loss and hope you will continue to find strength in the days ahead.

dgisola7
11.17.09

Risa, I am so sorry. Grief has a way of kicking forward every little regret and putting it under a magnifying glass. Be gentle with yourself and do your best to tell your children all that you loved about him, all your favorite memories of him, and in that way he will live on for all of you.

syndirowe
11.17.09

I am sorry for your loss. I lost my dad in April and I find my self taking care of everyone else so I don't break down and cry each day. Losing a parent is so isolating because no one really knows what to say. People think you arent grieving because you stay busy but that is just not true. My heart aches and I cry everyday. Truth be told, I can't even remember the 7 days after my dad passed. It is all a blur.
I hope you have a wonderful support system to get you thru the darkest days that will come.
God Bless.

thewritegirl
11.17.09

My deepest condolences. My father has been strugling with heart disease for many years. I think about what will happen when it is his time to go, also, and I know I have to prepare myself and my three children. Somehow, our kids keep us sane when we think its the other way around.

monkeywoman
11.17.09

I am so sorry for your loss. I truly know how you feel and am bawling while reading and responding. I lost my mother rather suddenly on Labor Day, and I have a 3 year old and a 1 year old, and I've almost gone crazy. There's no 7 days, no weekend, no mourning time at all. You try to save your hard crying for the shower at night when the kids are asleep and although you explain to the oldest why you're crying when you lose it during the day, you feel guilty for it. Everyone told me I was SO lucky to have small children to keep my SO busy after my mother died, but they're wrong! I am so lucky to have two beautiful small children, but this is one time I really wish they were at least school-aged so I could have some peaceful time to reflect and cry. My mother also helped me tremendously with childcare, etc. so this has been a brutal shock in a number of ways. My husband has been good, but, like you, I'm sure I would do a lot for "7 days". Hang in there and try to steal some time wherever you can -if you don't you really will lose it!

S-mom
11.17.09

I'm so sorry for your loss. I was also moved to tears. And taken back about 5 years, before I had my daughter, when my phone rang at 4:30 a.m. My mother passed, and I didn't get to say goodbye. I often wonder if it would have been better for her to have known her grandmother for a brief while, or to not have to suffer the loss of her. I always lean towards the former.