Nothing Really Prepares You
My parents are aging, like they do. In recent years I’ve started wondering what I would feel when one of my parents passes away. I have never had someone that close to me die yet in my life. Since I don’t know how I will feel, I imagine. I imagine I’ll be sad, shocked, perhaps numb. Part of me thinks (and hopes) that I will feel a calm acceptance, given my belief that death is just another natural part of life. And I certainly hope that I will be there for them, to go through it WITH them and be able to comfort them. I know, though, that there will be sorrow that I cannot even imagine.
About 3 years ago I received a Facebook message from an old colleague sending me their condolences for my dad’s passing. WHAT????!? He said he’d seen an article in the paper about my father’s demise in a car accident. I hadn’t heard anything about it!! I went into a bit of a reserved panic, not quite believing it to be true. How could something be in the newspaper and I hadn’t heard?! The gentleman back-pedaled saying that maybe he was mistaken. I started making frantic phone calls but couldn’t reach anyone. Finally, my dad returned my call and assured me that he was still quite alive. That colleague felt terrible, of course.
About a year later, my dad confessed to me that he had a very scary close call on the freeway which shook him. He glanced down at something for just a moment in which time the car in front of him slammed on their brakes. Going 60 mph in the fast lane, he managed to quickly and miraculously switch lanes. He said It was a miracle that no one was in the next lane and it happened so fast, he truly felt the hand of God save his life. He couldn’t even tell his wife about the incident so as not to concern her.
Another year, Christmas 2021, I am vacationing in Thailand. I get a call from a hospital back home that my father is being admitted and they needed some personal information. I gave it to them all the while waiting for them to tell me what the hell was going on. He had fallen, hurt his ribs and his legs were so weak he couldn’t get back up. His wife called an ambulance. They were giving him all kinds of tests to make sure he hadn’t had a heart attack or some thing else. I was frantically figuring out how quickly I could get home. From Thailand, it would take me about 24 hours to get there. Turns out he did not have a heart attack and had just bruised his ribs. However, he did test positive for COVID-19 which may have been why he was too weak to get up. He had no other symptoms. They kept him overnight for two nights then sent him home to quarantine with his wife, who also came down with Covid the next day. He recovered quickly. She got fairly ill for a few days but recovered as well. They were both vaccinated, thankfully, or it could have been much worse as my dad is a diabetic and also has COPD. They sent him home with oxygen as his oxygen levels were a little bit low. The good news is he’s just fine and I didn’t have to cut my trip short. But it was a scary couple of days.
I believe these happenings were perhaps given to me to help prepare me for the inevitable. Because I asked. Because I wondered. They gave me just a slight experience of how I might feel when the time comes. Sort of a "dry run." Maybe it'll help me, but I know that nothing can quite prepare you for the death of a loved one. No matter how ready you are, there are feelings and thoughts that come up while grieving that you just cannot anticipate. You just have to go through grief, wade in it, feel it. It hurts. And it's okay.