Remembered: April 22

The morning began like every morning, with Hubs quietly bringing me my cup of coffee while I was still in bed.

But on this day, instead of putting my coffee on my nightstand and opening the curtains a bit, he gingerly sat on our bed. His presence felt heavy. Burdened.

And I knew. My sleepy, half-awake brain knew something was deeply, darkly wrong.

I bolted up in bed, startling him, causing him to almost spill the coffee he was about to offer me.

What is it? I spluttered, my words unclear, my mouth dry. Hubs was staring at me, eyes welling up. The unsettling sight caused my stomach to knot. I felt fear closing my throat. I heard labored breaths.

It’s your dad, he said. You have to call your mom.

He was going to say more, but I interrupted him, thinking I’d spare him the dreaded words: He’s dead. My dad’s dead.

His head shook no. He had a major stroke. But he’s alive. He held out the yellow mug. Here. Drink.

Shaking hands passed to shakier hands. Shakier hands held cup to lips.

I sipped, not tasting. My beloved morning coffee had no flavor.

But I drank. I drank that coffee, willing it to calm my nerves, restore some sanity, give me the strength to call my soon-to-be-widowed mother. And then I dialed.

Come home, she said. Get on a plane. We don’t know how long he has. Hurry.

Hanging up the phone, I viewed my room through murky eyes. Lead legs waded through thick air to the closet. Grab the suitcase. Pack dark clothes. Wear black. Find a sweater.

I opened a drawer and leaned on it for support, but gravity pulled my chest to the floor and my body shook with sobs.

My daddy’s dying. My daddy’s dying. I gasped, sobbed, heaved as I began to be swallowed up.

Hubs’ long, strong arms appeared and encircled me. His body tented over mine as he held off the dark fog so I could breathe.

The sobs began to subside. I felt air return to my lungs. I breathed deep and leaned on my love as he helped me to my feet. He pushed my hair out of my eyes and looked into them, infusing me with strength. We need to focus. We need to catch a plane, he said.

Yes, I said. We need to focus. We need to catch a plane. And I climbed in the shower, breathing deep, letting the hot water scald the remaining fog off my skin.

the day my dad died

photo credit: Dustin Diaz via photopin cc

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31 Replies to “Remembered: April 22”

  1. This is so powerful. The fog of such a moment…you capture it with terrible clarity. Terrible because it’s such a horrific moment…..wonderful because we feel it with you.

    You capture us, captivate us, and make us feel your pain. Well done.

  2. That is a powerful moment to share. I enjoy the movement of coffee – from being such a an everyday pleasure to be being one of the few things you could hold on to.

    I love your husband! He really handled this situation well, proving comfort and support. In terms of concrit – I would say that “Hubs” is too light in word choice for the work he does in this post. This might one of the few times you spell out “Husband” for your reader! Save “hubs” for the lighter posts!


    1. You know, it’s funny you mentioned that about his name. Right before I hit “publish,” that occurred to me. I thought about going back and giving him a fake name (I don’t use my kids’ real names, and I wouldn’t use his, though JD is a nickname of mine) but I couldn’t think of one I liked quickly enough. Good point! Thanks for reading! (And yes, he is as wonderful as he seems. The best.) 🙂

  3. I was right there with you when you got the news, such was the power of your words. My mother died in April eighteen years ago, and I can still feel the pain. My daddy’s gone, too, and dad’s are the ones that always make us feel safe, even when we’re grown, even when we have a family of our own. Excellent description of a traumatic time.

    1. Thanks, Susan. I don’t have many friends who have lost parents yet so it’s hard for them to understand what it’s like. I’m glad they don’t have to understand yet, of course. I hope they don’t for a long, long time. Thanks for reading!

  4. I hear ya on this one. Received a similar call about my Dad on August 1, 2010. We were one centimeter away from really bad. I am so sorry that you went through this. Thank goodness for that “tent” of yours. It’s tough with daddys and daughters. This was an amazing post!

    1. Thank you! I hope your dad is ok now. My dad had had a previous stroke and he recovered 90% I’d say. It affected him positively in a lot of ways. I think it made him aware of the fragility of his life, and his last year was a very good one. But it also make me so angry that he was taken away just as I thought he was really changing for the better. I have so much frustration wrapped up in all of this – it’s therapeutic to write about it.

  5. I love the emotion in this – you transport us right there with you, feeling what you feel. Thank you for sharing such a private event with us. I’m sorry that you had to ever experience it in the first place.

  6. “His presence felt heavy. Burdened.” You captured that aura perfectly, that, as you said, heaviness, that a person who loves you the most gives off when he has to break your heart a little. And his heart is breaking for you, with you.
    Such good writing. Such a sad story. I’m sorry you had that heartache. Ellen

  7. I'm so sorry for your loss. Beautiful, honest post. I'm sometimes afraid to grieve my mom's passing because I worry I won't be able to get back out of grief. But I've learned that if I don't embrace it and cry it out, or find some way to express it – every time grief hits thereafter, it's a stronger and more painful grief to wade through. Thank you for posting this. It helps me to remember to grieve when it hits.

  8. You brought tears to my eyes this morning……I lost my beloved Dad to ALS in December. Although we knew it was coming, I also got the dreaded call to come straight to the hospital while I sat in my Doctor’s office 36 weeks pregnant with my second child. He died that night… sweet Julia was born just three weeks later. It’s been the most emotionally wrenching year of my life and I still don’t think I’ve totally processed it yet.

  9. I'm sorry for your loss. I can relate to the feeling of being pulled to the ground by emotion. I like that part of your post, the tantrum. I have had a few lay down, kicking, balling tantrums since my mom died… like a spoiled little girl who wants her mommy back. That's what it feels like; pure, desperate frustration; revolt against an unacceptable loss of control. Thank you for sharing.

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