As I sit here typing…it’s been six months since my initial falling-apart in the kitchen. Just a little before 8pm.
I’d been to the comic shop earlier in the day; begun finally sorting comics to clean the front room as Dad had been wanting; etc. I think I was in the middle of working through the Falcon and the Winter Soldier series, having just days earlier sprung for D+ as it was cheaper than purchasing a movie I wanted to watch.
And while I sat there watching–pondering what Dad would think of the show–I remember realizing a number of things. For one, there it was, end of 2021, and we’d not finished Iron Man 2…where I’d INTENDED to “subject” Dad AND Mom to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They’d both seen several of the movies over the years…but after his health scare in August 2018, I’d intended to take him through the MCU. To get to share that whole epic with him. He’d have watched them if I pushed–he’d have wanted to make me happy, would’ve been thankful for the time together. But knowing he wasn’t terribly engaged or “enthusiastic” about them, I had NOT pushed, and weeks turned into months turned into years. So when we got him home from the hospital–whether it was a few days or (as we feared at the time) a few weeks/months again–I was gonna talk to him about it and re-gauge his interest IN the thing. (Of course, by that point, 2 1/2 years POST-Endgame).
I remember thinking about some conversations we’d had; stuff he’d shared with me. Snippets from HIS past, from before he’d even met Mom. I needed to talk to him and get more stories like that. (and remembering the look on his face and seeing HIM remember as he told me about stuff).
I remember thinking back to 2011 and being with Katie and Tim, talking to Katie’s grandfather, them recording some of his stories and such to share later.
And that I oughtta do that with Dad. Talk to him ABOUT recording some of the stuff. Get him to re-tell that story from college about putting a sign up cancelling class, and waiting around to talk to the professor. Some of thosse stories from his time on the ship. Him and Eric…him and Bruce. Him and Chuck. Compare notes on stuff from the Sandbagger Golf League days–stuff I’d picked up on as a kid, but maybe was either oblivious to or only had one side of things.
But I never got that chance, after the realization and intent. So many stories about his life, and his experiences. Stuff I never knew…and now, never will. Stories that I vaguely recall in the loosest sense that I won’t get to “firm up” or clarify details on.
I remember some years back when Eric came out to visit…and we were all out at some restaurant…I think it was that Mexican place over on 306 with the buffet, back in 2015 or 2016. Watching them talk and catch up and reminisce…and something that came up that had them both laughing, and Dad had tears in his eyes from laughing so hard and long at whatever that memory was that didn’t stand out to ME at the time.
I had my “breakdown” in the kitchen. Terrified of what could come; worried almost sick. Despite stuff we’d faced before, and however it now SOUNDS…I remembered that moment in an old Superman comic when Jonathan Kent was hospitalized after a heart attack…and Martha confiding in Lois (I believe) that she’d never been so scared she was gonna lose him (Jonathan).
My breakdown was as it hit me that we could actually lose him. That this was somehow different from the other times since 2017. Different from 2017. Partly hitting me because of Mom having her own bad feeling about things.
I tried to tell myself I was freaking out needlessly. That confiding in friends about my worries was gonna seem so foolish in retrospect. (Not the confiding but the worries; that I was totally overreacting).
So I got back to Falcon & Winter Soldier. Forced myself “through the motions.”
I texted Dad at 8:56pm Wednesday, December 29th. “Keep feeling better. Praying for you, thinking of you. Love you.” And sent two photos of Daisey, a photo of Sarah, and a photo of Chloe. Trying to keep optimistic and encouraging and photos to cheer him/brighten stuff. I’m not sure if I’d realized he hadn’t seen the text/photo from the night before. I was going to at LEAST text and share photos every day until I could get in to see him (the hospital’s one-visitor-once-per-day crap meant only Mom was able to see him that afternoon).
Less than two hours later I heard Mom hustling from the cave; my habitual question “everything ok?” getting a NON-standard answer/response. “They’re doing CPR on him,” as she hustled on by to get clothes for going out. I was moments from “crashing” for the night myself, but that changed immediately as I quickly changed into non-bedclothes and told Mom I was driving and was heading out to start the car.
That tense drive. 15 minutes? 20 minutes? Less than a half-hour. Familiar territory…I’ve driven much of that route countless times before in the previous half-decade; knew the area well from the previous three decades.
Rule or no rule, I was going in WITH Mom; NEITHER of us was being left to wait in the vehicle or a lobby or such. And, despite the rule and my readiness to FIGHT if needbe, no one stopped us.
Those final couple hours.
Those final moments.
That room. That monitor. The sudden change in tone/sound. Realizing SOMEthing was happening or had happened. Medical folks rushing in; Mom and me being pulled out of the room. Clinging to each other as medical folks crowded the space, “Code Blue” from the overhead speakers paging personnel to where they were needed. Dad’s room.
Seeing what I saw.
And here it is, six months later. HALF A YEAR. Later.
I’ve not slept in a bed since getting up that morning of December 28th. Initially having “camped out” so I’d be handy and as aware as possible should anything “come up suddenly.” For the last six months because THE LAST TIME I was in that bed, I woke up to a world and life with Dad here in this house, with the expectation that things had to be getting better after the rough few days over Christmas and such.
I’ve managed to “force myself” to the comic shop every Wednesday. “Habit” or SOMEthing; it gets me outta the house, gives me SOMEthing “to do” each week that is not staying indoors here at the house. “Routine,” “motions” to go through, etc. For all that comics had BEEN through the years…Dad sure as heck would not have wanted to be “the cause” of me “dropping them” “cold turkey” or such; to just suddenly END something that had been a part of my life for 33 years…something that had given US something to tak about and bond over and shared experiences and interactions and such for so long.
I looked into “support groups,” but everything I found was video-only, or would require taking hours off work and driving at length just for anything “in person.” A group at a church 90 seconds’ drive away wanted people to wait til at least 3 months after their “loss.” Which for me meant at least the end of March. So I filed that all away and dropped it for the time.
Come end of March, other stuff going on. Mom in NY. I was getting ready for my first-since-2015 week-plus off work and roadtrip. Work. Day by day, getting by. Forgot about the support group stuff. A few weeks ago, it’s again bad timing. Gotta wait til August. Or do video. Or other stuff when I look that puts me off.
I’ve started “doing stuff” again, a bit.
Got a weekend with Mike and Drew in…February, I think it was.
Got to visit Zanesville with Mom in early April.
I went down to Alabama to see Sara in late April.
I got to go spend an afternoon with Katie and Tim and their boys at the one park beginning of June, and got to spend some time with Alana twice.
Couple weeks ago, got to spend an afternoon with friends playing tabletop games and just hanging out. Rather than just being at the house focusing on “Fathers’ Day.”
I’ve brought boxes and boxes of X-Men comics up to the cave. Tore apart part of the basement getting a shelving unit up here. Began re-sorting and “consolidating” X-stuff I’ve acquired over the past 2 years. And finally started “inventorying,” with an app I’ve actually PAID FOR for 2 years and now finally actively USING properly.
I’ve gotten some stuff cleaned up and dealt with that’s needed it; and some for naught as the mess has reasserted…but working with the X-stuff seems to be the most forward “progress” I’ve REALLY made in AGES in dealing with the comics, and so I chip away at THAT project while preparing to get the rest of the accumulation brought up and (eventually) sorted.
But not a day goes by that I don’t think of and miss Dad. That I don’t have that hurt and astonishment hit me that “he’s really GONE.” THat I canNOT simply walk across the house to see him. To talk to him.
I recall again the snippet of words of Sigfried Sassoon from his poem “Aftermath”:
Have you forgotten yet?…
For the world’s events have rumbled on since those gagged days,
Like traffic checked a while at the crossing of city ways […]
And I have NOT forgotten. I’m still here, I’m still learning to deal with this new world…and for most everyone else, life has (rightfully for them) just gone on after that pause.
And the words of Tanis Half-Elven as written by a CT Pierson:
My life moves on, my infant son lies dreaming
In his cradle, my thoughts still find you, old friend.
And though you would scowl to hear me tell of it,
And stomp and scoff, I cannot hide this plain truth:
I still need you […]
While I have no son, no progeny, MY life continues to move. But my thoughts still find Dad. He would never have wanted to be ANY cause of me feeling so much hurt and pain and such; would want me to keep on goin’ and all that…I still needed him. Need him.
And I have to live with that.
Even as those words from Castin Crowns’ song re-hits:
But I know you’re in a place
Where all your wounds have been erased
And knowing yours are healed is healing mine […]
I don’t know what sorta timeframe I’m looking at. Typing all this is the first time in weeks that I think I’ve (managed to?) shed tears. It’s not easy. It’s not over. It’s not right. It’s not what I had wanted or planned or intended or looked toward, etc.
But here I am.
Six months…26 weeks.
Somehow having “gotten through” hour by hour, day by day by week by month.