Out of the Dark

My life was changed forever in 2013. Everything I thought I knew……..wasn’t.

The next two years brought more difficult circumstances and what felt like too many changes. I didn’t realize how all of it affected me until I started getting better and part of what helped me come out of the dark was writing about it.

Slowly, tenderly……..a little at a time, I shared the stories on my blog.

Those smaller stories came together as a whole story and were recently published in Shattered Magazine.

When I posted my stories, I didn’t know they would go any further. I wrote the stories for the same reason I write anything…..to let others know they’re not alone, to give hope, teach or encourage, to help unlock a memory, or prompt a question they’ve never thought of asking before.

Maybe it will do one of those things for you.

Here’s a link to the story:  Darkness Couldn’t Win

 

 

 

 

The Dark

Seven months after Daddy died, so did Mom.

Dad’s sickness then death was sudden but Mom had been ready for a while. Mom was tired of fighting for breath and she wanted to die. She wasn’t scared of dying, only of suffocating.

We surrounded her as she lay on her bed at home when she ran out of breath. And that’s what it was like. No gasping. No struggling. No fear. Her breathing slowed…..a gradual peaceful stilling of her chest……….then her breath was no more.

Mom was gone. Mom and Dad were gone.

We sat in the same room at the same funeral home with the same young funeral director as we had 7 months earlier and I thought about how nothing was how I thought it would be.

Nothing.

But I thought about it as if I was looking on, separated from all of it somehow. Everything was muted……..kind of dulled………what I heard, what I said, what I saw, what I felt.

In between the deaths of my parents my marriage took another hit. We had been struggling for a while. It was already so fragile and I was really scared this time. A real kind of scared.

Maybe that was the last time I’d felt anything full-strength. Maybe a part of my heart shut down. Maybe the Zoloft was doing what it was supposed to do.

As I sat there with my sisters around that table choosing the hymns to be played at Mom’s funeral service I remembered comments Mom and Dad made. Some of them to me. Some to others about me.image

Mom and Dad had noticed my fading. My distance. I wasn’t myself and they were worried. I told them over and over that I was fine. I think I thought I was fine. I think I thought everything would be fine. But they saw what I couldn’t see.

The thing about fading is that it happens slowly. So slowly you don’t feel it or see it. It goes unnoticed at first. Then the heaviness gets heavier. The darkness gets a little darker. And you get used to walking around in the dark.

And I kept doing what I knew to do. What I had to do. Because the world doesn’t stop when your marriage is crumbling or when your Dad gets sick and when you just need time to think about things and feel things and mourn things. The world doesn’t stop.

Then it was heavier and darker and I was tired. The kind of tired that goes into my bones. I woke up ready for each day to be over.

As we reviewed the order of the funeral service, the words of one of the hymns came to mind:

O Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed

Then sings my soul, My Saviour, God, to Thee
How great thou art, How great thou art
Then sings my soul, My Saviour, God, to Thee
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

 

And I wanted my soul to sing again. I wanted to wonder again at all that God has made.

I’d not lost all hope. There was still some in there.

Because I knew……I know that abundant life is truly possible even in the darkest of places.

How great you are God, my Savior God to Thee, How great you are!

 

In response to the Daily Post’s Faded.

 

 

 

 

 

Gone 

I was exhausted after the funeral. We all were. But family and friends were bringing dinner to the homeplace for all of us. And far away friends were in town. I wanted to go home, sit alone in the dark, and cry. But I couldn’t. There were more people to visit with. Talk with. And the house needed to be cleaned after everyone left.

And Mom. We had to make sure Mom was alright. We had to take care of her now.

The months prior to Dad’s death were some of the most exhausting days of my life. My husband and I were going through what seemed to be a never ending rough season in our marriage. I’d just started a new job, while consulting at my previous one. Finding time for much needed one on one discussions was nearly impossible with our jobs, three kids, my sick parents, and other normal life happenings. So we didn’t.

Most of my days consisted of work, a long ride to the hospital after work to be with Dad, a longer ride home after the hospital, sometimes a quick stop to check on Mom, a call to one of my sisters to check what they knew from the doctors, and then it all gets blurry. At home in the evenings, I’m sure I did laundry, cooked sometimes, helped with homework, and all the other things I’m supposed to do. I don’t remember. I was barely getting through the days. I’d fall into bed but only sleep sporadically then do it all over again the next day.

I remember trying really hard to stay strong during that time. Zoloft helped me put on the good face some days. I was coping the best I could but on the verge of tears constantly. My heart was breaking over and over every day.

Because of the growing distance between me and my husband. Because my kids needed me a lot and I couldn’t be there. Because my parents, who were strong and capable and always there, needed me to be strong and capable and always there. Because all Dad wanted was to get well so he could keep caring for Mom but he was getting weaker and weaker. Because the new job I thought I always wanted wasn’t what I wanted.

Nothing was like it should be.

Then Dad was gone. And then you do the things you’re supposed to after someone dies. The phone calls and funeral arrangements. The telling of what happened over and over again because he was fine a few months ago. And then we had to figure out what to do next. Because Mom shouldn’t be by herself.

And Mom had good days and bad ones but the bad ones were coming more often. When she couldn’t breathe she wanted us there. All of us. By her side. Just there.

Everything hurt my heart.

I felt raw.

It hurt to be around people and the better I knew them….the more difficult it was.

I wanted to take pain pills. But I didn’t have any.

I wanted to get drunk every night. But I’m too responsible for thatimage. I stuck to one glass of wine a few days a week. Sometimes two glasses. Sometimes more than a few days a week.

And I kept trying to be strong but there was nothing left.

Dad was gone. But I was too.

Linger

We tried to get comfortable in the cold, dark room. But a hard, white hospital floor isn’t made for sleeping even with extra blankets and pillows. Neither is the small chair in the corner of the room. The racket of the machines wouldn’t have let us rest anyway.

Not that we were very concerned about resting. Our main concern was that the transition home went well for Daddy. After the doctors told him there was nothing more they could do, he decided to go home. We were waiting with him at the hospital to help with the move. To do whatever we could. To be with him.

We don’t know why Dad took off the BIPAP mask.

He had tried to communicate with us several times earlier and was aggravated that we couldn’t understand him. Everything he said was distorted by the air being forced into his lungs by the mask. He was already struggling and even more so when he had to repeat himself. We were heartbroken to the point of tears watching him struggle, still failing to understand his words.

Maybe he was tired of the mask and the straps pressing into his face. Maybe he took it off because he wanted to tell us something and he needed us to understand him. Or maybe he knew he couldn’t handle the trip home.

We will never know.

The alarm shrilled as soon as the mask came off. We rushed to him, panicked. Desperately and clumsily trying to put the mask back on. Calling for the nurses. Yelling, “Daddy, Daddy!”

Daddy looked beyond us, holding the tube of the BIPAP machine tight in his hand. We couldn’t get the mask back up to his face. When we realized he was taking his last breaths, we rubbed his arms and face, held his hands, reassured him we were there, told him we loved him. My older sister sang a hymn.

We burst into tears when we realized he was gone. A nurse came in and verified he had no pulse. She told us to take as much time as we needed.

We kept looking at him. Crying. Wondering.

We called Mom first. Then our youngest sister. Then our families.

I walked into the hall then back into his room. Unsettled. Restless.

Some other family members came to comfort us. We cried together. Lingered there beside his bed.

Remembered.   image

Prayed.

What now?

It felt strange to leave him. We stalled. Kissed him on the cheek. Held his hands again. Told him we loved him.

We left reluctantly. Silently. Exhausted.

Missing Daddy already.