So, I have shared that I decided to attend a writer’s workshop in hopes that it kick starts the creative process. My thoughts and ideas racing in my head can often feel like a caged animal trying to find a way to escape. Being surrounded by like-minded individuals gives me a comfortable platform to share, create, and get fantastic feedback. I thought maybe my blog would be a wonderful foundation to present some of my pieces that will eventually fit together into a book. My first piece is called The Spirited Exit.
I stood over him as his body cooled. His skin turning a dusty hue of blue and his eyes, vacant, gazing up. I fumbled with the phone as I dialed 911. The faint voice of the operator asking the nature of my emergency was drowned out by the loudness of death. I always thought death arrived in a hush, but the sensation was almost deafening.
“Is he breathing? Can you do CPR?” Bombarded with questions, I started to weep softly and the operator’s voice interjected a resounding, “Don’t upset him by your crying”. I thought to myself, how can he be upset? He’s dead.
The weekend prior, my parents joined another couple and ventured to Indianapolis. My father, who had lost his leg due to an infection, wasn’t feeling well and stayed at the hotel while my mother and their friends went to dinner. Watching his favorite college team play football, he called me to converse about the game, my day, and a potpourri of other topics. Stretches of silence were not uncommon as we both were engaged in the various plays and unfathomable calls made by the inept referees. He asks me if I was alright after yesterday’s events. Sadly, I was not. My wonderful cat died unexpectedly and I was still in a period of shock. The irony was my father joked incessantly about how he didn’t believe we had a cat due to the fact, Abby, was pretty much scared of everyone except for my husband and myself. I believed he might have seen her once, but it was in a flash of fleeing a room. We lingered for hours on the phone and then as the game ended, we said our goodbyes. I didn’t realize that would be the last time I would ever speak to him.
It seemed like hours had passed since I called 911. My husband had moved to the front of my parent’s house awaiting the arrival of help. Help, an ironic term for this situation. I touch his arm and reached for his hand.
“He’s gone,” I softly utter.
“Yes, as I helped him to the car and he asked me to lay him down on the garage floor, I could feel him leave his body,” Brian shared. Tears pooled at the rim of my husband’s eyes.
My mother, seemingly wanting everyone to be comfortable, including dead people, rushed to cover my father with a blanket and put a pillow under his head. Holding his hand, she whispers to him and I finally see how connected they are despite the abrupt arrival of death.
Layered in warm clothes, I couldn’t help feeling chilled as called a host of individuals to inform them of the news. My deliver was a script that was similar to a telemarketer.
“Hello. How are you? Well, I just wanted you to know that Dad passed away tonight. He wasn’t feeling well and as we tried to assist him to the car to transport him to the hospital, he died. Right now, he is laying on the garage floor awaiting to be taken to the funeral home.” I lamely comforted the others as I numbly went through the motions. I thought how funny it was that Dad had always wanted to die at home and how he should have been more specific as to which area of the home to take his last breath. I was angered by his unwillingness to call for an ambulance because he doesn’t want to bother the neighbors with sirens, yet, I hear the sirens coming anyway. I guess the only one that won’t be disturbed will be my father.
As we waited for the coroner and funeral home, neighbors and friends came to console us. We stood in the garage, our makeshift funeral home, and we shared stories. As people left, I stood alone in the garage and sang. My father always enjoyed my singing and it was because of his belief in me that I even pursued voice lessons. I can’t remember exactly what I sang, but I do remember it was at that moment where the emotions that had laid dormant while consoling others, bubbled to the surface and trickled down my face.
My mother is a stuffer. Emotional release is for the weak, so she hides her feelings and exhibits a calm, stoic demeanor. She answers questions masterfully and briskly gathers paperwork to escalate the planning of the funeral – all while her husband has been dead a total of two hours. I envy her, but then I remember, her mental state will crumble. It always does. Her inner sanctuary is actually an insane asylum that for years has caused her to live in an unrealistic world. Her solution is to harbor her feelings, so she won’t break. How ironic is it that by harboring, she will do just that – break.
We go home – my husband and I – to share the news with our young children. Our boys, Bailey and Bryce, were the apples of my father’s eye. Their relationship was like a warm blanket made of love. The boys had never lost a loved one and since they were so young, I wanted so badly to shield them from the harsh reality of death.
“We know Mommy,” Bailey said. My sweet little boy with Down syndrome proceeded to explain that Pawpaw told them he was going to be with God.
“He sat on my bed and told me not to be sad,” Bailey stated completely unaware of the spiritual experience that was presented to him. I am a believer in the afterlife. I am a believer that our loved ones want us to be at peace. Once again, my father, who had so many times made me comfortable in the most painful circumstances did the same for my boys.