Friday, November 30, 2018

Numb and exhausted.

That's how I feel right now.

After spending a two-week vigil by my dad's hospital bed in Nebraska, he finally slipped away into the night on November 18th. Dad was 75 years old.

During dad’s second week at the hospital, I said goodbye a hundred times over and told him I loved him even though he could no longer respond to me. The nurses all said that patients in his condition could still hear. I told my dad that it was okay to go, okay to leave us. I didn't want him to suffer anymore. 

Earlier in November, my dad had suffered a massive stroke that paralyzed his left side. He could no longer walk or feed himself, but he still had coherent moments where he could talk to us – at least during the first week. I quickly left London on November 5th, flew to my homestate in the U.S. and was distraught to find my dad such a different person than the one I had just seen in July. Although he’s had many serious health issues the past few years, I still didn’t expect to see this faded man in front of me.

I slept eight restless nights in the hospital room with my dad. My little brother, who is almost a foot taller than me, shared the sleeper couch with me for several nights while our mother slept in the recliner. We didn’t want to miss a moment with him.
Nurses came in the room every hour or two to check on dad's vitals, re-administer pain meds, etc. The monitor registering dad's blood pressure, oxygen and pulse would sound a blaring alarm if his vitals dipped down too low. One of the last nights, his pulse dipped down to the 20s and 30s and set off the alarm at least eight times. It was the worse night of my life. Every time, my mother and I woke up out of a restless sleep, fearing the worst and rushed to dad's side. After that night, I couldn't sleep at the hospital anymore and went back to my parents' house, so I could at least seek some comfort in my husband's arms.

Watching a loved one slip away – slowly every day – is the worst thing I have experienced in my life so far. I sat by his bedside as he exhaled his last breath and he had no pulse. I couldn't believe it. I didn't want to believe that my dad was really gone.

My dad was my biggest cheerleader. He supported me in all my career changes, my crazy expat moves around the world and all my travels, often looking up the destination to remind himself where I was in the world or I would jokingly quiz him on the capital of the country I had recently visited. He loved me unconditionally. I was always daddy’s little girl.

I still feel numb. Does that feeling ever go away?

What fills the void of losing your biggest supporter?


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jaz@octoberfarm said...

oh joy...i am so sorry to hear this. he was so young. i lost every one of my family by the time i was 22 so i know the pain too well. it takes a long time until you feel better. it's a process. one day you will smile at his memory and the pain will turn into something sweet. email me if you want to. big hugs in this awful time.

Elena and Sophie said...

Joy! I am so very's you!

Gee Em said...

Dearest Joy,

Firstly, sorry for your lost. Remember you spent some great times together, you have fabulous memories. These are the things that will go on. The numbness will go, then you will feel a real sense of loss and move on to acceptance. But there is no time line to any of this. J and you will work through it together. In your own way, in your own time. Cry when you need to, laugh when you can.

Catherine Yiğit said...

Sorry for your loss Joy. This is a time when there is no right or wrong about how you feel or how you react. Take the time you need. Condolences to all your family.

Julia said...

Thinking of you, Joy. There's no correct way to feel or behave when you lose someone. And it's not something you 'get over.' You'll deal with it in your own time and your own way and you'll always have those special memories, too. Sending love from Turkey.