I’ll be blunt. This week sucks.
This is the week that I dread every year. My parents both passed this week, 13 years apart from each other. Monday, two days ago, was the second anniversary of my mom’s passing, and today is the fifteenth anniversary of my dad. Fifteen. How is that even possible :(
My mom’s passing was something of a relief, as she had suffered from stage seven dementia. She didn’t know who I was, and needed help to do even the most mundane tasks like brushing her hair. I hated to visit her because it was just so damn depressing. When she passed, I think everyone was a little relieved, though sad. It was a horrible, slow, agonizing death. Where is the dignity in dying if you have literally no memory of the moment? She would have glimpses of memory flash back then it would all quickly fade as fast as it came in for a brief moment. At the end of her life, she didn’t look anything like her former self. Sad, sad, sad.
My dad’s passing struck me like a freight train. Rather, as if I were run over by a freight train. His passing was unexpected. Though he had several health issues, imminent death was certainly not in the forefront of any one’s mind. On this occasion, my dad had suffered a stroke, this time a bit more serious than before. It was not entirely surprising since his body was under stress with a recent history of collapsed lungs, strokes, and fighting multiple cancers. Perhaps we should have been more prepared. I saw him twice that week while he was in the hospital. I had driven as fast as possible the weekend I first heard he was admitted to John Muir. I was oblivious to traffic laws. He seemed to be in good spirits, and obviously did not want to be there.
I then visited him again on Wednesday afternoon. His body was failing and bones were snapping because of his bone cancer. Another horrible death about to incur. My father and I never hugged, played ball, or said “I love you”, and there was always a healthy mutual respect between us. But this time was different. I knew he was in a lot of pain and this was more serious. The drugs they were giving him to ease the pain of the bones barely even helped he was telling me. He was hurting, literally. I grabbed his hand, looked in his eyes as my mother and sister were also in the room. I told him “I love you”. These words rarely escaped my mouth, much less to my father. A few hours later he slipped into a coma, and we all just sat back and watched, and waited, and hoped for the best.
On Saturday, July 15th, 2000, I got a call from my spouse while I was out shopping with the kids at Comp USA. She told me to come home immediately, something bad had happened. I knew what it was. I grabbed the kids and we rushed home. I couldn’t even concentrate on the way home. Once home, I got the bad news I never wanted to hear: my dad was gone.
I felt intense anguish like I had never experienced before. A blanket of emotions overcame me as I tried to comprehend the moment. For some reason, I remember feeling this in depth pain, as if tearing my clothes was the only thing I could think of that may help direct some of the pain I was feeling. I had never experienced this depth of loss ever. I had remember reading in the Bible in my younger days about the ‘tearing of clothes’ and looked up a reference:
While they were on their way, the report came to David: “Absalom has struck down all the king’s sons; not one of them is left.” The king stood up, tore his clothes and lay down on the ground; and all his attendants stood by with their clothes torn. (2 Samuel 13:30-31)
One web site explained it as such:
“On the most basic level, the tearing is expression of pain and sorrow over the passing…But there is also a deeper significance. Judaism views death as a two-sided coin. On the one hand, when someone passes on, it is a tragedy. They have been lost to their family and friends, and there is a feeling of separation and distance that seems beyond repair.”
I have never felt that emotion but once, and hope I never have to feel that level of disparity again.
My last words to my dad were “I love you”. I will never regret that visit despite his passing. That is ideally what you always would want your last words to be to someone.
My dad would have been 88 today. Hard to believe. One thing I know for sure, is that this does not get any easier with each year. I miss him every day :(