The plug has been pulled. 20 years of a life filled with consistency and stability upended in 80 minutes, it doesn’t seem right. I doubt that any kind of warning would have made this easier though. Maybe it would have just made me angrier. That’s about all I feel anymore anyway, anger. Rage. And here I sit with fists that feel like lead. My heart wants to punch holes in these walls that surround me. Punch holes through paint spattered canvases and picture frames, but I don’t even have the strength to do so. I can barely lift these lead heavy hands high enough to hold the pen I wrote this with.
The doctor said it might only take a couple of minutes now. We stood around the hospital bed weeping, holding hands. I've never seen a man dying before. Your hand was so cold. I closed my fingers tight, secretly hoping I could squeeze the life back in to you. Your heart rate slowed. I think this is when the anger started. There are a lot of things in life that I cannot bare, helplessness is at the top of the chart. Rage. Where were you at that moment God? When I held his cold hand weeping, terrified, standing beside myself, were you crying too? When I begged did you listen and choose not to oblige my pleas because your plan is bigger? Did you ignore our aching hearts and longing wishes? I hope not. It’s hard enough for me to place trust in you again as is. I hope you ached and wept with us. Do you feel my pain?
The clock struck 5:00. Had it really only been an hour and twenty minutes since I had gotten the call that would shake my very foundation. It felt like years.
“You need to come home…now.”
“Is everything okay?”
The car couldn’t go fast enough. 50, 60, 70 miles per hour down Bethany? Honestly I have no idea, my eyes couldn’t focus long enough to read the numbers on the speedometer. Pulling on to our home street I almost crashed in to my brothers car. Fire trucks, police, ambulance, it couldn’t be real. My heavy heart sat on the edge of my stomach.
“Is he okay?’
We raced to the hospital. Family and friends gathered in a waiting room off to the side, drowning in the unknown. Waiting for a doctor, a nurse, a miracle, the truth, anything.
“…kidney failure…heart attack…if he lives…if…full vegetative state…its up to you…”
The doctors had already revived him several times.
“If he wants to go, then we need to let him.”
It was decided, a unanimous agreement.
The plug has been pulled. 20 years of a life filled with consistency and stability upended in 80 minutes, it doesn’t seem right. The doctor said it might only take a couple of minutes now. We stood around the hospital bed weeping, holding hands. I've never seen a man dying before. The clock struck 5:00, then 5:01.
81 minutes. A lifetime of relationship coming to an end.
82 minutes since I got the call. It didn’t seem real, yet there we were. Huddled around a hospital bed we wept and became closer than we ever were.
83 minutes. My mind flooded with thoughts and memories and fears that fluttered for a second then disappeared to be replaced by more. Tears. Anger. Regret.
84 minutes. Why did it have to be this way? I knew deep down this day would come, but not even in my worst dreams did it happen this soon.
85 minutes. Flat line.
A nurse came in, flicked a switch, and the heart monitor powered down. It was real.
“He's not going to be in our wedding photos…”
The first words out of my mouth as I turned to my fiancé. It was two and a half months before our wedding and we now had to mentally transition from wedding planning to funeral planning. My mind was a mess. I was hit with the reality of a life filled with fatherless Father’s Days, and afternoons of telling my future children about the Grampa they never got to meet.
The next week was a blur of family, funeral planning, reminiscing, and rejoicing over a life well lived. I was happy, full of peace, and grateful for the Father I was blessed with. But time went on. The happy, peaceful feelings slowly drifted away and in their wake; anger and depression settled in uncontested. One of my pastors told me that the first couple weeks would be the easiest. We would be surrounded by others and feel an overwhelming amount of love and support. But eventually this would end. Life would continue to go on even if ours seemed to stand still. He was right.
It has now been 128 days since my dad died. I'm sitting here at the front desk of the gym I work at, but mentally I'm back in that hospital watching life fade from my fathers’ eyes. I can’t tell if I'm really here or there but if it were up to me I would be neither. I would probably be five again. The time when life consisted of nothing more than Necco wafers and superhero drawings. I would wait for Dad to come home and ask him to draw the outline of a superhero for me because he was the best at it. Then I would run to my room to turn the outline in to a real hero. That was the closest I ever came to doing art. Now I write. Just like my father the ink is in my veins. But I wish I were five again. When we would do Friday night movie nights and he would get me Necco wafers, the candy of my childhood. I bought some two months ago hoping they would still be amazing. I was wrong. The chalky consistency almost made me choke on memories. They are not the same without you.
I'm so angry now that sometimes it’s the only emotion I feel, and it’s not fair. It’s not fair to my wife or me. I feel I cannot love her the way I desire to. I try. I try hard but my love is not where I want it to be. I'm angry with you God. I blame you even when I don’t want to. It’s hard for me to place my life in your hands now. Some nights I hate you. Others, I need you. My split personality relationship with you angers me even more, and I am scared. I'm scared my own issues could cause others not to trust you so I bury it. I can’t do that anymore.
I cannot pretend any longer. I am done running. I am done hiding. I am hurt deep, and I am broken. I have trust issues, I am so angry it hurts sometimes, and I cannot cry enough. I want to be whole again. I need to be whole again and I need to feel your love but this drought is terrifying me. “Dry bones” barely even begins to sum up where I am. Where are you?
It’s only been 128 days since my life was changed forever. 128 days.