The last year of my life has been full of obstacles. I lost my job, I lost my will and I lost my dad. Today, I begin the first day of the rest of my life.
I fell on my face, and caused the fall. I then stayed down for the next nine months. In the time it takes one to bring a life into the world, I was self destructive and turning inward. My loved ones reached out to me and I turned away time after time. I became so anxiety ridden that I rarely left home, and when I did, it was brief and traumatic. I didn’t take calls I should have, and I didn’t always return the love and support I was given.
On November 7, 2016 while I was taking a shower, I suddenly couldn’t catch or keep my breath. I was a pack+ a day smoker and it had finally taken its toll after 27 years of smoking (I’m 39 today). My husband rushed home upon my 911 text and took me to the local ER where I was given steroids, breathing treatments and an inhaler. That day, I gave up the cigarettes and it was a turning point in my life.
At this time I was also weaning myself off of a powerful and dangerous (in my opinion) anti-depressant (Paxil). This drug’s withdrawals are not for the faint of heart. I experienced hallucinations, night sweats, extreme dizziness and crying spells that lasted for weeks. Then came the anger and rage. That was a two-week period that I still harbor guilt over the ways in which I treated my family. My doctor had me coming off Paxil at a rate that was too much, too fast for my system and I ended up going on Prozac to bridge the gap between Paxil and Paxil-free.
The week of Christmas I had finally started to feel semi-normal. The dizziness and severe emotional side effects had lessened and I was making headway. Christmas came and went and the next couple of days were so simple and ordinary.
December 28, 2016 at 3:18 p.m. my brother called. I knew it was the wrong time of day for him to be calling me, but I answered with a cheerful and upbeat greeting. I knew in an instant that something was horribly wrong, as he asked if I was alone. My kids (15 & 19) were home with me, my husband was not. He then proceeded to explain he had bad news. I knew it was Dad. I “knew” his heart had either given out or he was back in the hospital (he had a successful by-pass in August). It was neither.
My Dad died that day. 9/10 of a mile from his home on a dirt road in the middle of the SE Arizona desert. He came to an intersection and there it happened. A collision of terror. He lost his life the moment he collided with the other vehicle. He wasn’t wearing his seatbelt, he was going far too fast. It was 9:30 in the morning. He was clear-headed and not in a hurry, he was on his way to pick up his hearing aid. A very ordinary day. He kissed and hugged his wife goodbye and never ever returned.
What does it mean to lose a parent?
It’s losing a connection to ones roots. Losing a piece of yourself. Losing an unconditional love that you never imagined could be lost. I have 3 siblings and although we are all going through the same loss, we are each feeling this loss in completely different and separate ways. To each of us our father was a different person. He knew how to love each of us individually and independently. Never before had we realized the importance of this. Never had we given him the credit for filling our hearts with his love. Losing my father, my Dad, was a pivotal moment in my life. Forevermore I will see my life in two parts, before dad passed, and after.
Today I learn to begin again. Just as my Dad always taught me to.