Monday, May 30, 2005

Thanks Y'all

I wanted to say thanks for all of your kind words over the last week. My father passed away at 3 am Monday morning (it seems like so long ago already.)

Please do not read any further if you are sensitive to death and the process. Seriously.

It was a very difficult week watching the 58 year old man that helped raise me deteriorate into somebody that I hardly recognized- this person with sunken cheeks, shallow breaths and a slowly fading pulse.

I lay on a cot by his bed most nights counting the number of breaths he took each minute - 20....14....9....0. I would lie still trying to match his breathing patterns - at the end my lungs just couldn't keep up. The tick of the clock on the wall that I used to measure the minutes each night sounded like a freight train in the early morning hours.

We spent the week in the hospice unit - seven people in three days died in the rooms around us (that was all we cared to count.) I cannot imagine how the wonderful nurses that work there can stand to come in to work each day. Everybody that came in there died - some within hours, and some after days like my father. The nurses all learned our names and took very gentle care of the patients.

I constantly had to slink down the halls to go to the rest room with my eyes downcast to avoid making eye contact with members of families who just lost a father/son/mother/baby- whatever, knowing that I would be one of them soon.

I only received 2 calls the day before my father died because nobody knew what to say. I don't blame them; I didn't know what to say.

Friday night I lay in the cot next to his bed and begged God to go ahead and take him that night to spare my Mom and sister from having to see him take his last labored breath. I was alone with him this morning when it finally happened- no fanfare, just a puff of air and then nothing. I called the nurse in to confirm his death and then had to jar my family out of their precious fitful sleep with a phone call to tell them the news.

He was slightly lucid during the first few days - we all got to say our good-byes. I told him to tell God that I love him when he saw him. I think he understood.

The only times I felt comfortable leaving his side was when I made one of several rounds of visits to various funeral homes trying to decide which one would be right for him. At one point I was sent down a completly dark hall in one to find the rest room. Very creepy. I went alone each time because I didn't want my Mother to be exposed to any of those terrible decisions.

The viewing is tomorrow night in another state - a five hour drive away. The funeral will be Wednesday morning.

I am sorry to share all of this - these are things that I simply could not tell anybody out loud. I promise that I won't leave this post up for long.

When I get back I will explain why these were my parting words for E when I prematurely left Austin early Tuesday morning:

"Tell Jack I'm sorry I smoked crack in his bathroom and had sex in his bed."

Thanks for listening. I am sorry if this was difficult to read. It was difficult to write.
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