I woke up the morning of May 17 and had the immediate thought of, “Please don’t die today. It is Z-Fred’s birthday and I don’t know if he could live his life knowing that you left today.” I wasn’t thinking about myself dying. I was thinking about his grandpa. There wasn’t any specific reason other than the day to day knowledge that it was nearing. His time to leave us, that had been creeping in for years, was starting to jog towards us and trust me when I say that apparently death owns pretty good running shoes. I am happy to say that he didn’t leave us that day and instead he spent the day with Z-Fred and they went to my nephews graduation from college. I know it was a proud moment for him and am glad he spent at least part of it with my son. The day my grandma died, I had ditched work and spent a big chunk of it at her house. Maybe the senses kick in. Maybe we have just been lucky. Whichever it is, he stayed for Z-Fred’s birthday. It was the next day that the world started to crash in.
I don’t remember the specific calls or in what order they came, I mostly just remember her words, “He is in the hospital again.” and somewhere mixed in were the words, “This time it is different somehow, I feel it.”. The first part always starts the on edge anxiety of “the wait”, it was the second part that put me on alert. “Different”? Why, why was it different and why is everyone acting so in control? I don’t care if there has been years to “prepare”, ” get used to” or “be ready”. It doesn’t matter really because every time his levels are evened out and he is home another day. Boy, I can be so selfish. This time I knew it was different too because he didn’t want to do it anymore. I can’t blame him really. The indignity of it, the painful tired that lived inside him. I didn’t want him to feel that anymore. That is all a big part of the reason I could barely talk to him anymore. I abandoned him in my desire to protect him. I knew if I said more than a few words at a time that I would lose it because I didn’t want to lose him. I didn’t want to make him worry about me because I couldn’t keep my emotions in check. Weak woman. I cried about losing him before he was even gone and the last thing he needed was to be concerned about me.
Sometime during the early morning hours of the 19th, mom called again and said he had a seizure and they had moved him. Thank the universe that I haven’t slept well in months and was still awake because I wouldn’t have heard my phone if I had been sleeping. I hung up with her and apparently started to ask those I have loved to protect and help him while he packed his bags to go. I don’t really remember doing it very clearly but *poof* there it was a few minutes later. It actually calmed me knowing that he wouldn’t travel alone. Next, I had to get the painting I had started for him (finally) out of my head. I knew I couldn’t paint it fast enough so out came the paper and permanent markers.
It was planned that I would fly up with the boys after school on the 20th. By then he wouldn’t be awake anymore. Just breathing. I had an end of year assembly on Monday the 19th at the boys school and couldn’t stay. I tried. We landed fairly late and were taken to the hospital despite the time. I didn’t want to do this but yes, I wanted to.
The next day was spent with family and a few friends in and out of the room. Gathering, leaving, gathering again. There was a sign hanging on the wall about checking out that we all laughed about and he would have laughed too while giving that look about how screwed up our sense of humor is. You always knew he was amused by that look. While in the room, I was playing with the Ghost Radar app on my phone and talking to him in my head. I was huddled by the window and there was a lot of laughter going on and the things that were popping up on this GR thing just seemed to go along with it. No it did go along with it, I need to quit downplaying it. I know it is “haha funny” to some but I do believe that they can and will let you know that they are there through whatever means they need. I haven’t shared the screenshots I took with anyone and am now thinking maybe I should so they may not think I am so nuts. It had been on for several minutes before it started to do these things and one of the first things it said was “loud” I wondered if I should tell everyone to hush it up. I didn’t, I just stayed in my world where I knew I could make it back home.
On May 22nd, at about 4:30am. My mom called her house to tell us that he was gone. Officially. I was asleep and didn’t hear my phone, of course, so my nephew woke me and told me. I didn’t go down to the hospital at that time. The boys were asleep and I just didn’t want them to know yet. The dog wouldn’t come out from under the bed for hours. It was time to get slapped in the face with emotion and realizations. It was okay to grieve now, he was gone. I haven’t done this grief bullshit in a couple of decades and as I wrote while in the hospital room in my own profound way, “THIS SUCKS ASS”.
I just wanted to say that I am sorry for not being stronger. I never wanted you to feel like you were being abandoned. You see and know now, I am sure. I know you were there in Best Buy that day. Obviously, I thought you weren’t when I started to cry like a woman with nobody to walk her down the aisle. It was a stupid laptop purchase and I didn’t realize really until that moment I was blindsided that I have never bought a computer without you and your input. I hope you don’t think it is too weird that I still have your voice mail from 2011. I knew one day that I would need it and it turns out a few others have too. Have to give me props for deciding to share it after coveting it for all these years. Hitting that save button every 21 days while simultaneously hoping that I didn’t hit delete on accident. I know that you were impressed by the way we created that amazing rock “thing” in the backyard for you and that was an incredible idea that Aunt J had for everyone to send you our thoughts. I still can’t imagine not seeing you again but I know that you are keeping watch with the others. Please see what you can do to help the little guys understand, they are hurting. I am hurting. Don’t worry, I will keep Sis close.