30 January 2008

Ten Years Ago Today

Ten years and two days ago, he called me on the phone to tell me he was very nervous about his heart catheterization. He was worried he might have a heart attack, that his heart wasn't strong enough to withstand this same test he'd had 17 years before. He said he was afraid he might die.

I heartlessly replied, "If you had died every time you said you would, I'd have dug a grave to China by now."

Ten years and one day ago, he entered the VA Hospital in Huntington, WV, for said heart catheterization. He was right. He suffered a moderate heart attack during the procedure. The staff gave him a blood thinner and said the next day he would go in for an angioplasty.

Ten years ago today, a brain tumor we didn't know about began to hemorrhage due to the blood thinner. His body temperature dropped. Half his body went numb. He called his wife of 28 years to tell her. He was wheeled into the St. Mary's OR to stop the brain tumor bleed, but his heart wasn't strong enough to beat through anesthesia. He slipped away at about 7:00 PM.

Ten years ago today, I received a call from my mom telling me the situation. Ty-man and I booked an emergency flight to Charleston, then a rental car to Huntington.

Ten years ago today, I rushed into St. Mary's at 7:30 PM, found the OR waiting area, saw my mother, Sarah, and Vicki, all crying, all huddled together, with a nun offering comforting words.

Ten years ago today, I stood over my father's body, dead for 45 minutes, a shell that had so recently held the life spark, I stood and stared at the dried blood on his nose and listened to the nun offer a prayer.

Ten years ago today, I silently apologized for being such a cold, heartless daughter, wishing I had comforted him and told him I loved him. Ten years ago today, I wished for five more minutes with that life spark.

Ten years ago today, Kelley stood in my mother's kitchen, washing dishes, telling me to eat, that to keep my strength during this time was most important. Over the next few days, I went through the motions of eating, sleeping, bathing, and caring.

Ten years ago today, my father died and I didn't get to say good-bye.

I miss you so much Dad and hope you look down everyday on these three beautiful grandchildren of yours. The ache has never subsided. The pain is still there. Thanks for coming to me, in a dream that first year, to dance with me and tell me you are "alright." The dream-talks we've had since then have helped, I just wish they were more frequent.

I'm sorry I made light of your fears and I'm sorry I wasn't there with you or for you.

I love you and wish you were here.


Anonymous said...

"and I have hope toward God, which hope these themselves also entertain, that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous" - Acts 24:15

It is good that you didn't say "good-bye" because it would have been a lie. Good-bye is indicative of a permanent or final departure. You WILL get to see your father again, and he'll get to meet his precious grandchildren. So instead of "good-bye" it's "so long for now." I love this beautiful post, thank you for sharing.

Not Afraid to Use It said...

Your father knows how you feel. The fact that he has come to you in your dreams is a testament to that. I am sorry that the ache is still there--I suppose it will always be. Please take comfort in the fact that you DO get to have visits from him sometimes. I know it is not enough, but at least that connection is there. Hugs to you honey.

Vonda said...

Heather, I'm so sorry for your pain in losing your Daddy. I know it must sometimes seem like yesterday that he was here and other times it must seem like it's been forever since you were able to talk and laugh with him. I love this post, Heather...I know your Daddy knew how much you loved him...you have a great way of showing love towards people. I also know he would be proud that you're a great wife and Mommy. Love you, Vonda

Avitable said...

What a beautiful post.

I also can't believe how much you look like your mother.

Miss Britt said...

Oh sweetheart. This was so beautiful, and I feel your ache.

The Ferryman said...

Oh honey, I am so sorry.

I am going to call my dad today.

Unknown said...

My heart is breaking for you now as it did ten years ago. Love him and miss him, but don't have any regrets about what was said or not said. People who know and love you know how you feel without words having to be spoken.

love and hugs

Gypsy said...

That was so very touching. And a great reminder to us all to tell our loved ones how we feel. Life is short. Hugs.

Unknown said...

*sniffle* If I was nearby, I'd have a hug and a box of tissues for you.

I completely agree with NATUI - he knows how you feel and that connection will always be there because you still hold him dear to your heart. A loss like this is something you never "get over." You just learn how to live with it.

Military Mom said...

Oh Heather, you are such a beautiful soul. I am so sorry for your loss, but I think the way you live your life with such integrity and class is a huge testiment to your father. He would be so proud of you, and he knows. Love you girl.

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Denise - I love you, hon. You know this. Thanks.

NATUI - Thanks, hon. The dreams are nice and comforting when they happen.

Vonda - Thanks, hon. I love and miss you guys. Germany is too far away.

Avitable - I know! And Miss-Miss looks like me. Mom's chromosomes are strong!

Britt - Thanks, hon.

Fab - Call him and tell him I said, "Hi."

Teri - My biatch. Love you too, hon.

Gypsy - Thanks for the hugs.

Andrea - Thanks, hon. I was using those tissues last night, writing this post. Hugs appreciated!

Military Mom - Love you, too!

RiverPoet said...


Heather, I am sending you a big ol' virtual hug, hon'. I remember feeling, when my dad went into the hospital that last time, like, "Yeah, yeah, whatever." He had been suffering from lung cancer for almost 7 years. It was just one more hospitalization. He died, and I wasn't there.

I swore I wouldn't let that happen again. I was there with my mom both when she had the triple bypass and, 3 years later, when she slowly slipped away.

The only thing you can do is change what you do in the future. Your dad knows that you love him, every bit as much as mine does. Mine comes to visit me sometimes, too. I still miss him, nearly 26 years later. He never got to meet my kids, either.

You're an amazing person, and I love that you celebrate your memory of your dad.

Peace - D

HEATHER said...

Sending you a cyber hug (( )).
After having kids it seems like the pain gets worse, I know mine did.
I wish you Peace.

Cricky said...

I'm positive that nothing I could say would make you feel any different about the "goodbyes" so I will only say - I'm greatful that you shared this story as a reminder to all of us about the importance of telling those we care about "I love you".

Anonymous said...

OH, this is the first post I got to read since arriving back in the US...and you made me cry :(::
I was feeling sorry for myself for being back in the COLD. Was stopping by for a laugh. Looks like I needed a reality check instead.

Wish we lived closer so that I could give you a hug and/or a margarita. Looks like you could use both.

Suldog said...

Not to be overly cavalier, but he's alright. He's in a good place, same as we will be someday. And you can rest assured he knows how much you love him. I believe that with every bit of my heart.