Sunday, October 4, 2009

I'll always be there when you wake...

Hello World.

The nights are the hardest.

I remember nights spent at the hospital just 6 short months ago.

The hospital gets dark and quiet at night, but it never stops breathing.

A new nurse would take over for the last. She was never the same. Some were memorable, mostly for being particularly kind and caring. It was always a "she."

While my dad was turned and cleaned and adjusted for the night, I'd drift around the sleeping hospital in my pajamas and socks. I never felt under-dressed at the hospital. I would eat popsicles from the freezer at the nurses' station and pace the quiet hallways, always respecting my dad's privacy.

I knew that's what he'd want. He said so until he could no longer say anything, but I still respected him.

By the time the nurse was done, I would be outside his room waiting. I'd hope they didn't hurt him, that he was comfortable, that he'd sleep peacefully.

He was always uncomfortable afterward, though, I think.

The sounds he made...

He was always a loud sleeper, especially prone to snoring.

His snoring comforted me. His snoring was a sound I grew up with. A sound that meant "home."

The sounds he made in the hospital were different. They were sounds nobody should ever have to hear.

They were sounds that still haunt me.

It was not quite moaning, not quite gasping...

It was a sound that could drive a person to madness.

I'd sit beside my dad's bed and find something on TV to watch - HGTV or Law and Order or a news channel. I'd talk to him randomly about whatever it was.

They said he probably heard me, probably knew I was there, probably felt comforted by that.

I'd lie my head next to him and place his large, warm arm around my small, tired neck.

I didn't cry. Not out loud.

I'd set the sleep timer on the TV then arrange the little bed I slept in - a vinyl-c0vered chair that fully reclined. I had itchy hospital blankets and a pillow made of plastic that would get a large air bubble if I lied my head on it without thinking.

I would eventually fall into a deep sleep. A deep sleep filled with vivid dreams that I don't remember.

I'd usually wake with the hospital, feeling clammy and exhausted.

One morning I woke to my dad's voice frantically calling for me. His oxygen tube had come out of his nose and he gasped for air, for the less labored breathing that the tube that rested on his mustache provided him. I helped him and he asked for one of his best friends, Barry. I told him it was 6 AM, Barry wasn't there yet, that I would get him. I teased him for thinking that the rest of the world woke as early as he always had. I called Barry. I told him my dad was calling for him and I asked him to come - he was on his way.

I asked him if he had dreams. He said he kind of did. He couldn't explain what he meant. I didn't ask.

The nights got worse.

My dad would take a gasp of a breath then...pause...I'd count. 1...2...3...4...5...6...7...8...9...10...11...finally - another gasp for air....then more counting.

As I lied with my head resting beside my dad, I'd say, "Don't forget to breathe, Dad."

During his last night, one of the best nurses asked me why I said that. I told her I didn't know...I told her I didn't know what else to say. She gently reminded me that he was suffering, that he would die.

I told her I didn't know what else to say.

I didn't tell her that I didn't want him to die, that I was scared, that I wanted to SCREAM it at him, that I needed my daddy to remember to breathe because I NEEDED him to live.

She told me to tell him I loved him, to tell him happy memories.

I told him I loved him over and over again. I practically begged him to tell me that he loved me too. I think he did. I'm not sure.

I hate that I'm not sure, that I can't hear it the way I can hear the awful, painful sounds he made.

I didn't cry. Not out loud.

I talked and talked. I told him that the Obama family had gotten a dog, that there were Somali pirates, that Tiger Woods didn't win, that MN still couldn't settle on a senator. When I ran out of things to say, I listed all the places he'd been. Japan, Australia, Battle Creek, Thailand, Hong Kong, Memphis, Disney World, France, Colombia, New Zealand, Idaho...on and on.

They were our nights. Me and my daddy. Just us.

I liked that.

When he died, it did not feel like he simply fell asleep. He was too quiet. For 15 minutes, I held his dead hand. My hand, so small in his. I felt it go cold. I told him I loved him forever and ever.

I didn't cry. Not out loud.

4:15 PM on 4/15/09. He was 53.

I hope he knew I was there. I hope it comforted him.

I hope he knows how much I love him.

I wish he could help me sleep now. I wish I could feel the weight of his arm around my tired neck. I wish I could re-live each and every one of those painful nights. I wish I could know he's not suffering anymore. I wish I could rest in peace.

I hope that he'll forgive me for crying. Out loud.

4 comments:

Deonna (your BFF) said...

He DID tell you that he loved you, when you came home from the hospital you told me that he had, and you couldn't believe it because he NEVER said things like that.

So he DID say and stop not believing me- because you TOLD ME right after.

BTW very good, very well written

Amy Jane said...

I love my BFF, Deonna!

I think you're right...I'm kinda sure....I just wish I could HEAR him saying he loved me...more than anything...

I can't explain it. :/

trishal said...

i got onto this page by accident, i was googling the tudors and for some reason your website came up. im only a student from singapore and this post made me cry, not only because im a daddy's girl, but i cant even explain the reason. Your writing is amazing, you captured the love for your dad, the same i feel for my own in such a way its unexplainable. i know its hard and i cant say i understand, but you are in my prayers, i hope things turn out right for you and your family.

-trish

Amy Jane said...

Trish -

Thank you so much for your message. It's hard to explain....hard to out in words...but I'm glad my blog entry meant something to you. I sincerely hope that you never have to experience it for yourself - that you never, ever understand.

Go do something fun with your dad, for no reason...I'd give ANYTHING for that chance. :)

- Amy