Today marks the two year anniversary of the phone call that marked the moment that my entire life changed. I had just spent the weekend enjoying the festivities of a dear pals wedding, I had spent a lazy Sunday at the dudes house and at some point, I was on the phone with my oldest brother who was in bliss, his RedSkins were on the television. We laughed and joked, I think that they were actually playing the Steelers that day, who happened to be our father's favorite team. I planned on phoning him that day, we had not talked for months for reasons that will be mentioned later, but I got distracted, side-tracked, or it just fell from my memory and I never made the phone call.
But, all of that was on Sunday, we are on Monday now. I went to work, then headed over the The D as the Singles Ministry was having one of their initial First Monday's and I was pretty excited about it. I walked in and surprised myself by sitting towards the back of the room instead of being my typical sociable self and mingling with the people. There were ice-breakers, praise and worship, then the speaker for the evening got on stage. All of a sudden, my cell phone rings (and rarely does it ring). It was my sister in law. After getting over the initial shock that the phone actually rang while I was in the church (cell phone reception was typically horrible), I ran out the back door to take the phone call, she doesn't typically phone at that hour. I nearly knew that something had to be the matter. I don't recall exactly how she presented the situation to me, but the story was about my father. He had a medical emergency of some nature and it was not looking good, he was hanging on by a string. The message that I was being given at that moment was that it was in my best interest to get to VA, where he was in the intensive care unit immediately. I rushed back to get my belongings, I was rubbing my eyes so hard, I lost my contact, so even though I was in no condition to drive mentally, it was a certainty that I was not physically going to be able to do it either. A friend drove me home where I was able to just sit, pray, think, make phone calls, pray some more, and deal with the reality of this situation.
My father was married, but he and his wife were seperated. He had done quite a bit to violate her trust (and some other things to). He has struggled with drug use and criminal behavior for my entire life. At the time of his passing, he was living with his brother and his wife in their home and decided to go to visit a friend that lived close-by. I suppose that this was a pretty normal occurence for them, he might pay his pal a visit in the middle of the day. I wonder what the conversation went like in his mind when he decided to grab his belongings and go to his friends home. He was there for a while, then excused himself to go to the bathroom. His friend just nodded his approval and continued about his day, nothing unusual about a friend asking to use the bathroom, right? His friend heard a thud. Then, he heard something fall. He rushed to the bathroom to find that my father was passed out on the floor, something was wrong, 911 was called. The paramedics rushed to his aid and took him to the university hospital. Everyone who could worked on him to the best of their ability, but he was still in a vegetative state. They were able to put him onto a ventillator to sustain his breathing. I arrived a day later to see the situation for myself.
When I was initially told the story, the predicted outcome was certain, he's gone. But, shortly thereafter, I spoke with a few other folks who told me that it wasn't that bad, I could probably expect him to be up and running in a week. All of us were called into a room with doctors. Though there were several of them, there is one in particular who had a distinct accent who was the only person in that entire room who had the courage to be direct with me. The readers digest condensed version... it was the drugs that did it to him. He took the hit that was the one that took him out and his body just could not handle it. When he hit the floor, his brain swole and it would not constrict, he was not coming back. At this point, it was up to us as a family to make the decision to allow him to go, the machinery was doing all of the work for him at this point.
Now, imagine having to make a decision such as this when just a few days before, your biggest issue was 'am I going to call to speak to him because he gets on my nerves because he keeps on doing crazy stuff and I am not going to show support in him doing these things any longer'. I was frustrated because he kept doing things to land himself in jail and I hated the fact that I had to go through the humiliation of being patted down and stripped when I would go to see him. While secretly wishing that he would just go ahead and stay in jail, that is when I knew where he was. Now, all I can think is if the whole situation would have played out differently had I made that phone call. What if that point when I phoned would have been the time that he was about to go to make his purchase for his next hit, but he got distracted while talking to me and never went to go to purchase it? Then, on the other hand, I get mad at the police for not holding him for longer for his last infraction. Annoyed with a family member who a reason to press charges against him, but dropped them later so he would be free. Ticked with his wife for not reporting what she knew him to have done which also would have put him in a 'safer' place.
But, this is not the time for that, this is the time to listen to God and ask what he would have you to do at a time such as this. I know that I have asked God a LOT over the years, but I must say that had to have been the biggest request that I have ever made of him. To provide me the sound mind to find the forgiveness in my heart to not release him from that physical body, but from all of the years of unmet expectations that I have experienced from our relationship.
This whole prospect of preparing to get married has been difficult for me. To recall how proud my friends father and grandfather were to do her wedding the week before my life changed, to recall how another friends father was bursting with pride as he gave his youngest daughter away just under a year ago, when I noticed the care in which the father of this weekends bride took to stop midway down the aisle to adjust her veil, to see my bridal warrior pal's father to be so excited and involved in the process of her wedding... and know that it will not be me. Yes, there are other men in my life, as a matter of fact, my oldest and youngest brother are going to give me away as they have been the father figures in my life, but there is just something about having the one who actually assisted in your creation walking you down the aisle, standing before God and the man that you will create your own family with and become the father of your children to answer the quesiton... Who gives this woman?