Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Fridays

In the Christian church, Good Friday is a somber occasion. It is the remembrance of a time long ago, when people good and bad participated in an inhumane act that resulted in the death of a very good man.

Good Friday in my life also holds memories for me that are not particularly good.

It happened on Good Friday about fourteen years ago. The sun was shining and appeared to be an average spring day. My father had been in the hospital for about three weeks. He had entered into the hospital completely healthy walking and talking. Well, he was completely healthy except for an aneurysm in his abdomen. An aneurysm is a weak spot in the blood artery that becomes like a balloon and expands. It is also like a balloon in that it can suddenly pop, in that case the person loses blood very quickly and can very possibly die. But we had no worries in this case because my dad's aneurysm had been discovered and had been monitored and now he was scheduled to have it repaired. Sure it was major surgery, but how many people did I know that (practically routinely) had five, six, even seven bypasses and recovered and lived long lives. I am ashamed to say that I did not take this surgery seriously as I should have and as seriously as I would today.

The day of the surgery seemed to go as expected. Then that night, unexpected things started to happen and he was rushed back into surgery. Days later, his body seemed to settle down and recover. Soon he was on a regular floor. Wow, that was close and it seemed we had dodged a near death experience.

After a few days on the floor where it seemed recovery was going as expected, during the time I deeply regret I did not cherish those conversations with my father. In fact he was expectedly crabby, hated the food and just wanted to go home. Then one day as I stopped in, I knew something was wrong. The nurse said he had gotten up during the night and had fallen. He was visibly sick and asked for my mom. If I could go back I would have spoken so much more, but I wanted him to be quiet so he could rest, I wanted him to be quiet so he could heal, I wanted him to be quiet so he could get better and leave the hospital so that we could just go home and then we could talk.

This leads me to the morning I started talking about. It was a beautiful spring day. I had had a relatively good night's sleep and I was optimistic. As my dad had gotten progressively worse I had only dared to mention only twice outloud that I was frightened that my dad might not recover. I prayed and I prayed. My most desperate prayer was, please God do not let anything happen to him while I am not there. For some reason I needed to know that nothing bad could happen while I was not at the hospital. (We of course were spending hours and hours there.) And to be honest, I thought that prayer would keep him safe, because I knew that when I was there, I just knew, that nothing bad could happen to him-- it just couldn't!

So I entered the Intensive Care Unit that day naive and hopeful, and I ran smack into a wall of reality. My sister and mom were in with my dad and his breathing sounded funny. I took his hand said hello. Almost immediately, things started happening. The nurse came in listened to his chest and asked us to step out. Then she began yelling his name and sternum rubbing. We were quickly escorted out of the Unit into the hallway.

We were standing there in the hallway, right outside the door, when the announcement came over the hospital intercom - "Code Blue". My mom screamed. That scream still echos in my head. And I began to grow numb.

We were quickly placed in a little room off the hallway. I had spent almost every waking hour for the past three weeks in this area and I had never seen this room. This little room. To this day I HATE little rooms in hospitals. HATE them.

The hospital chaplain came immediately. She was a Catholic nun and I am still grateful to this day for her kindness and compassion.

I became RoboDaughter, I knew things had to happen and I could not process what might be going on in the Intensive Care Unit. I quickly called our pastor. I asked him to please pray, just pray. He came to the hospital immediately.

Then we began to try to assemble the rest of the family. This was before cell phones so everyone brought out their address/phone books and we started looking up work numbers and asking for those people who answered the phone to start tracking down where they might be. My brother drives a delivery truck and they called each store on his route to find him. My brother-in-law was on a flight home, I think his secretary may have called the airport. Soon we had a crowd in that little room -- that awful little room.

A doctor came out to give us his status. The doctor seemed so young, that is really my only memory of him. That, and that his voice was very kind. There were three more code blues called that afternoon and more screams. Then it was over.

My dad died on Good Friday.

And that is what I remember on Good Friday.


Becky said...

I will always remember the day your dad died. You called me that Friday night and I was in labor with Jami and she was born the next day. I guess there are always things you wish you could go back and change. I feel the same way about my dad, even though I had a longer time to say goodbye.

Your dad was such a good guy, even though he CONSTANTLY gave me trouble about being at your house so much!

Aunt Sally said...

Robin always remember to thank God for all the years you had with your Dad. Because every one was a blessing.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Good job. Glad you decided to post.

Thank you.


Elizabeth said...

I had no idea. Thank you for sharing this.

No, it is not "self-indulgent dribble." Stories with such depth and pain never are. Sharing your story is giving those you love the honor of bearing your burdens with you. You lighten the load when you tell others.

You know when you've achieved your own "personal and unique style" by the way it resounds in your heart. Is your heart lighter or heavier? Listen to it.

I will never have another Good Friday without thinking of your dad. Thanks for letting me in the circle.

Bina said...

Robin, I am so very, very sorry. What a horrible thing.

Kathryn said...

Oh, Robin, I am so sorry. I know all too well about that little room, too. Spent so much time huddled there when my mother was so very ill. God Bless. I am sure your Dad knows you love him.

Robin said...

I want to thank everyone for your kind words. Becky, I remember my dad would come home, see us sitting at the kitchen table and say, "Are you here again?" lol

Cheri and Jesse said...

The way you wrote that I felt like I was right there. And I did not get there until it was too late. It also gave me a better understanding of what happened that day and why you all hate little hospital rooms so very much!

chris said...

It's hard to leave a comment when there are rivers in my eyes. Dad would have enjoyed your blog. He always wanted to be a writer & if he lived in todays world, I think this would have been his thing also.