Have you ever been afraid to forget something that you don’t really want to remember? Or better – something you just don’t want to dwell on? Yes, that’s it. Have you ever been afraid to forget something that you really rather not dwell on?
As we approach the two year mark of my Dad’s brain hemorrhage I have found myself thinking about the time he was in the hospital. Especially those first three weeks. They were easily the worst and hardest three weeks of my life. I did not journal or keep record of that time. I talked to friends and I wrote emails to The Edge Girls, but that is the only record I have. And…it kind of worries me that I’ll forget what it was like. Let me try and explain.
Like I said, I did not journal at that time. I just couldn’t find it in me to write out my emotions and fear at that time. But now, that the time is passed, and I still have my Dad it is not painful to look back at that time. Instead it’s actually kind of amazing. I’m amazed I survived it really. I think about the things that happened and the things I thought and…I don’t really want to forget. I’m not sure if that makes any sense at all, but I’ve been thinking about this for several days as I lay in bed at night, so I figure maybe I should do something about it. Here’s the catch though – I still don’t want to write it in my journal. I’m not even sure what that is all about. So, I’m going to write some of it here, to you, because it’s easier to talk to my friends then to just poor it out on a page nobody will read. For me anyway. Thank you, in advance, for listening, and please remember – I’m not writing this for sympathy or condolences or praises. I just feel this is an important life challenge for me that should not be forgotten.
I remember at first being filled mostly with shock. Maybe denial? I didn’t think my Dad was going to die. That wasn’t a possibility. Mom had to be at the hospital with Dad. Alec was very upset. Rachel didn’t really know anything. She needed me. So, done – those first couple days Rachel was my sole priority. Mom and Alec mostly stayed at the hospital. Alec rotated with me, but mostly I was with Rachel. We didn’t lie to her of course, but we kept things very vague – Daddy was in the hospital, in a coma, because his body was healing. Dad went into the hospital on Friday. I was with Rachel all weekend. On Monday, I drove her to school so I could go in and talk to her teachers.
Mrs. K was great. She was understanding and gave Rachel a big hug. She took my cell number and texted me often. Keeping me updated on Rachel and asking for updates. I saw Mrs. Cook, who had been a teacher there when I was a student. I told her about Dad. She also helped Rachel. Rachel’s previous teacher started driving her to and from school for us. I was so so relieved and grateful. I didn’t cry. Much at least. I just had to do what had to be done.
But then Wednesday…my mom called me when I was at work and said I needed to come. The doctors told us Dad didn’t have much time left. Things were not looking good and they didn’t expect him to make it through the night. We called a Priest. He came in to administer Last Rites to my Dad. I cannot remember the prayer at all. I remember crying so hard that my tears felt like hot tar leaving my body. I remember not being able to stand. I remember kneeling, collapsed, on the hospital room floor. My hand holding my dads, but not able to look at him. Mom, Alec and I all stayed at the hospital that night. I remember each beep sounding like an alarm. I remember the glow from the outside window shining in my eyes. I remember being terrified and discussing how we would tell Rachel (who was with my Aunt now, at this point).
After my Dad making it through that night I remember feeling a lot of tentative hope. But still so much fear and worry because the doctors still told us he probably wouldn’t make it.
There was another night when things were really bad. He had come down with pneumonia. The machines started going crazy, about 8 people rushed into the room and turned on the big lights. They undid the ventilator and someone started manually pumping air into his lungs. It was controlled chaos. Mom and I couldn’t do anything but sit and watch. We held onto each other and prayed.
I remember hating that saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” because it felt like if this didn’t kill me, it would certainly leave me broken. And it did, for awhile. The recovery took my family awhile, just like it did for my dad. I felt broken for quite awhile.
I would go to work, leave and go either directly to the hospital or to rehearsal (I was Assistant Directing a show in Atlanta at the time), and then to (or back) to the hospital. This cycle would repeat for days until Alec and I traded off. Mom stayed at the hospital for almost a month straight before finally coming home, just for one night, and then back again. I showered at the hospital, ate there, slept there. Cole kept our own home running as well as my parent’s house. I look back, and really I’m kind of amazed. I was doing so much, was so busy and was under such stress. God is amazing and it was a miracle. That’ all there is to it. I was running on borrowed strength.
Obviously this is not the whole story (and it does end happy ), but these are some of those early thoughts and feelings that I just didn’t want to lose because I can look back now and appreciate that all this didn’t kill. I’m not sure it made me stronger, but it made me better, I think. It changed me, and maybe broken pieces can be put back together to be stronger. I’m not sure. I’m just sure that God’s grace can work miracles and that he is all the strength we ever need. I’m sure that he used this time to teach me some important life lessons and those should definitely not be forgotten.
[For those who are not Harry Potter fans - the pensieve is a stone basin used to store memories. You can even go back and view your, someone else's, memories as if you were there. Very handy.]