You don’t find out how truly unfair life is until somebody you love dies.

Death brings out people’s true natures at the worst possible time. You find out who your true friends are. You find out how important you are at your job. You find out how important it is to be prepared. You find out way too much information about the person that died that you really didn’t need to know. You find out who is just hanging around and waiting for the opportune moment to strike. You find out how stupid people really think you are.

Death is a mother fucking bitch.

It’s not fair that you have to keep moving. Life should come to a stand still when someone dies…give you time to stretch, accept, and breathe…but no. As soon as someone dies you have to make decisions. Funeral, wake, obituaries, clothes, donations, money, family, last wishes, tombstone, funeral parlor, cemetery, time of day, which day, how long, pall bearers, flowers, bills…and then you get to worry about your life that has to keep moving and all the decisions you have to make for that. It’s an unending clusterfuck of emotions and situations. All you want to do is curl into a ball and mourn this person you loved, wallow a little bit in your memories, find a few choice mementos and hope for a way to move on.

My daddy died.

Writing that just took my breath away. Like, I’ve never seen it in print. It crosses my mind a thousand times a day but I have never seen it written down as plainly and as simply as that. It really hurts.

Now, my father hadn’t been in the best of health for a very long time. You would think his death was something that was planned for or something we were prepared for, but it wasn’t. I was getting ready to move in and finally be able to take care of him and mom. The last time I saw him awake, he was sitting in his bed, all wide eyed talking about teams, trades, and popcorn chicken. He confessed he had fallen a few days before and hadn’t told me. And I was mad at him for that for hiding it from me when that was the whole reason I was moving there…and for how filthy the fridge had been and how since I had come there, nothing was getting cleaned and I was treated like it was my responsibility. I could feel myself slipping into Cinderella syndrome all over again, and I hated it. I was there to help, but I wasn’t the help. It wasn’t my job to clean up a house he had spent the last few months neglecting because of his depression. Everywhere I looked, the place seemed like a shrine to my mom, like she was already dead and he wanted everything to be the same way it had been the last day she had been home. He was always saying so and so came by and helped clean this or that, but that was bullshit. Nobody ever cleaned anything in that house, and if mom had been home, she’d have been pissed off and since she couldn’t be pissed off, I got pissed off because my dad was better than that. He was almost living like a squatter in his own home because he couldn’t bear to go to the other parts of the house without my mom being there. It pissed me off, made me a little sad, and a lot guilty. I started to see how sad and lonely my dad had really been. All that time I had been begging him to come live with me; all those times I couldn’t sleep from worry he was somewhere sleepless and bereft and he’d kept telling me he was fine…he was blessed…everything was good. Only every once in awhile would he break down and tell me how much he hated being alone and how he could still hear my mom calling him sometimes. I would cry and beg him to come with me, but he would always change the subject or turn me down. I never realized he was waiting for me to give up my life and come to live with him. He would never ask me to do it, but the day I said I would his face was so relieved and happy, it broke my heart. But as heartbroken as I was, the state of the place was getting under my skin and I was starting to feel reality sink in that my life wasn’t going to just be my life anymore. I was right back to where I was 10 years ago, under my parents’ beck and call and rules and ways. I couldn’t breathe. I had to escape while I could still escape, so I went back to my place to pack and get perspective.

I don’t remember if I hugged and kissed him goodbye. I hope I did. I honestly don’t remember if I did it, but I remember wanting to do it even though I was mad at him. I remember not wanting to leave him there, but needing to do it either way because I hadn’t been home in a few days and I wanted to make sure it hadn’t been broken into…and I still needed to pack and get my hair done. I still had to take care of my life. And I stood next to him, full of anger and love, torn about leaving him suddenly, but making plans for stuff we could do when I came back. Maybe a movie night. Cook dinner on Sunday…hot wings for football, maybe. Last thing I did was make him promise to call me if anything happened…if he felt sick or anything. He blew me off with a “Yeah, ok. I will,” like he always did. I said I loved him and he said, “Love you too, little girl.”

And I left.

The next time I saw him, he was unconscious in a hospital bed. Seven days later on a Wednesday I sat across the room, staring at my dad with tears streaming down my face. Hating myself for leaving him, hating him for not calling me or taking better care of himself, hating the visiting nurse for not making him go to the hospital sooner. Hating the whole fucking world, really. I was waiting for him to shake himself awake, but his eyes were staring off into space. I thought he saw me, though. I moved closer and spoke to him and he had a seizure and I freaked out, but something told me he saw me and heard me and was trying to respond to me. The doctors recommended taking him off the machine and giving him morphine. My one uncle refused that, so we didn’t. As much as I didn’t want to hope, I did start to hope he was getting better. We were cleaning out the house and I kept thinking how made he was gonna be at us for getting out of that house. Then he got worse. Docs said he was pretty much brain dead and he wouldn’t be coming back to us.

You never think that at 35 you were going to wake up one day and watch your father die, but that’s what I did. There were so many people there, and they kept talking about my mom and we all felt like shit because she didn’t know…still doesn’t know. Her mental and physical state is too fragile right now. She can’t even grasp the severity of her own situation, better yet the death of her husband. Lucky us. When she is well enough, we get to watch dad die all over again in his wife.

Finally, I had my time alone with dad. I refused to wear gloves because I didn’t want to be wearing something the last time I touched him as if I were afraid of him. I hugged him and I stroked his temple as I told him we would all be okay. We would look out for mommy and each other. We would be a real family. Me and mom were good…I wanted to take care of her. We wouldn’t let anything happen to her. She was right upstairs and was here with him in a way. She was going to be okay. He could let go. We understood he was tired. It was okay. He could go. I don’t know how many times I repeated that through tears, but I know he heard me. I know it. He started breathing slower and slower and I thought he was going to go while with me, but then I whispered Jay wanted to come in and say good night and his breathing picked up again like he wanted to talk to Jay. I hugged him again. I kissed him again. I rubbed his head and I told him I loved him more than anything in the world. He was my dad…my dude. I will always be his little girl. I touched my forehead to his and whispered, “Go Bama, roll tide” as my tears fell on his face. The last thing I whispered was, “Good night, daddy.”

As I trudged my way to the waiting room, I felt a shiver go down my spine and I knew it. I knew I would never see my dad alive again.

I was right.

Jason and Amanda have been awesome in all of this. Jay stepped up as mom’s medical power of attorney and Amanda and I and my uncles went to the funeral home and took care of everything. But beyond that, even being pregnant, Jay and Amanda have been running themselves ragged so we can get dad’s place cleaned out and get mom’s affairs in order. I still have to move and I will get a place mom can move into when she comes home. Every since dad took his last breath, the rest of us have been caught up in its whirlwind. Everything is chaos. We just had Amanda’s shower for the twins and that night her mom mom had to be taken to the hospital. Poor Mands, as round as a weeble cried out, “Why does God hate me?” after the doors shut. I can’t speak of her sadness or Jay’s grief, because that is something they share and only they know. I only know my grief and misgivings and regrets. Every day I wake up thinking of him. Expecting a text about nothing or seeing a post on the fantasy league board from him. I keep waiting to hear his voice. I wonder if we did the right thing. I hope he knows we did what we could. We didn’t know any plans. Nothing was ever discussed with us. We did what we thought best. We did what we thought would make him happy. And now we play the waiting game to tell mom and hope to God her first reaction isn’t to follow after her Thornie or that her second is to hate us and blame us for not telling her and having her miss saying goodbye and his funeral. These thoughts consume my days and I bear it alone, slightly jealous of Jason having Amanda to turn to while I lay alone at night with my tears and missed conversations for company. I know I have friends that are here for me, but it’s not the same as a lover. Friends aren’t obligated. I am not their responsibility, and as much as I want to run to one of them and cry until I’m dry, I can’t. I just can’t. So instead I crawl into myself, have bouts of sporadic tears, smoke myself senseless, and pretend everything is all right.

I find myself unable to find a way to finish this, because I have so much to say. So much has been happening, and I still want to write about my dad, but my heart is heavy and I am becoming maudlin. I didn’t want to write anything to get pity from anyone. I just wanted to write about what’s going on…about my dad…about my turn around with mom…about how amazing Manda’s family has been throughout all of this…how much I admire Jay and Manda’s strength…I just needed to get everything out and down on paper. I just needed to tell someone. I just needed to share.

Like my daddy told me, “You are a writer and a writer must do what a writer must do or they ain’t a writer. When you don’t write, you’re not you, so just do what comes so natural to you that others would kill for. I wish I had your talent. You better do something with it! Promise me you won’t waste it! Even if you fail you win because at least you tried.”

And so I write.

No amount of words could ever fill the void my father has left in his wake, but to honor him, I will attempt it.
I know I am rambling and not making any sense.
I guess all I wanted to say is…

I miss you, dad.