Looking back on that dreadful day, I remember getting the call at work and sort of just breaking down, only after trying so hard to walk into my manager's office and tell him I was leaving. I was the first of my siblings to know, which meant I had to the bearer of bad news. So I called my younger sister at work, my older sister at work, and hightailed it out of work and to my brother's school where he was in class taking one of his mid-terms. I can remember waiting in the guidance office for what seemed like forever for him to finish his exam..his guidance counselor said he could go get him sooner than later but that this exam was a large portion of his final grade(s) so I sat and waited patiently. Finally, once getting word from the teacher, the guidance counselor went to get my brother out of class. My brother was walking down the hall towards me and I was trying so hard to stay strong and keep my composure.. it seemed like such a long hall way all of a sudden, like it would never get to the point where he reached me. It was so hard at that moment - I've always been the strong one and I wasn't going to break now either. Once my brother got into the office, I could feel my lips starting to tremble as I told him as calmly and solemnly as I could, why I was there.
Dad had a heart attack at work but he's ok. We're going to the hospital.He said he knew something was terribly wrong right away. He could see the expression on my face and the makeup smudged all over my puffy eyes. We got into the car and headed to the hospital.. I just remember doing my damnedest to remain cool, calm & collected so not to upset my brother who was already clearly shaken. He's very close to my dad.. he idolized my dad. (*that seems to have all changed a bit- *Later post) I just kept telling him that Dad was fine, he had gotten medical attention early on and that he'd be ok when we got there. Once at the hospital we met up with my step mom and younger sister T who was already there, having worked just around the corner at a neighboring hospital.She had really taken this hard already. Besides a couple of other unfortunate events, I never wanted to get to her so fast as I did right then. She had called me a few times while I was en route telling me that she felt so alone and really wanted me to get there. My brother and I got there just before my dad went in for surgery..my older sister G had also arrived at this point.. we waited in the family waiting area with all of the other families. Talk about anxiety. So many other people were there waiting for "word" on how their loved ones fared in surgery. It brought back memories of when my brother was in the hospital (Pediatric ICU) and we were all in the waiting area there. I always remember this one man coming into the area where we and other families were sitting and he asked us to all take part in a prayer that he then recited. I was met with such a feeling of comfort right then and there. We all bowed our heads and he went on with the prayer. It was as if for that brief moment, it didn't matter what any of our backgrounds were, religous, ethnic or otherwise. We were all there for the same reason. And we all really needed that. I wish I had stood and thanked that kind, mysterious man for his thoughtfulness but I didn't. I still think about him though. So back to my Dad.... Every time that door swung open and a doctor walked out, you could see how anxious we all would get. Is he coming over to us?? Why does he have that look on his face?? Is he Dad's doctor?? I watched people ask the receptionist, a million times, if they missed the call or if the doctor had come in when they were out for a break. If a doctor came out and went up to a family, I'd watch their facial expressions. Thankfully, I mostly saw sighs of relief. I remember holding my pocket prayer book in my hand and praying for what seemed like hours. I prayed to every saint I could, asked for forgiveness and promised to do my part from there on out. Not necessarily in exchange for my dad's health, because God doesn't really "bargain" with you. I guess in a sense He does but you know what I mean. In a weird way, with my family all there I felt a sense of togetherness yey I also felt a strange sense of being disconnected too. It was like my brother's accident all over again. (later post) When we were able to go in and see my dad, I of course had to be funny. I don't deal with this kind of thing too well so I always try to deal with it in a different way. After all, it's said that everyone deals with grief etc.. in their own way. Humor and lightheartedness is just my way of dealing with it. Finally, I went in to see my dad and it was so friggin' hard to hold back and not throw myself into his arms like the 5 year old who once stood at the back door waiting for him to come home from work. I wanted to tell him that I'd change my ways and not skip out at family gatherings when everyone was kissing and hugging him goodbye.. I wanted to tell him that I was sorry I didn't say I love you, more often, or EVER. I wanted to tell him that I learned a lot about not always having that second chance. But I didn't. Nope, I handled it differently and I immediately thanked him for getting me out of work. We laughed and that broke the monotony a bit but there was still such a look of uncertainty in every one's eyes, as you can well imagine. Fast forward 4 days later to January 28th my dad ,ironically, came home..ON HIS BIRTHDAY. We knew, (not to the extent that it is now) that it was going to be a long road to recovery for my dad. This was the one time in a long time that I felt so sure that my family was going to repair our severed ties and recreate relationships gone awry.. but much to my dismay, it wasn't the case at all. In retrospect, I think this was the time that my family seemed to completely fall apart at the seams. How on earth could that happen? Well it did, it has and I can't fix it.. no matter how hard I try. All I can do is pray. Pray that the 'injury' to 'certain' relationships are repaired and that those who seem to have "left" will come back... while there's still time and we're in the present. Not when something bad happens & guilt gets the best of him/her.In the next weeks/months that followed, my Dad was diagnosed with COPD, PVD and Lupus. Not so great, but he's managing I suppose. He's on long term disability now, out of work ( I suppose retirement?) He is still in a lot of pain ( althought he'll never admit it) and it's hard for him to stand long or get around for extended periods of time. But for the most part, I think that he's content. He's finding happiness these days in his new found love of Wal-Mart & Rachel Ray. January 28th is his birthday - we'll be celebrating Dad and thanking God for getting all of us through a rough year. For some of us, it has been an eye opener and we try like hell to not take things and people for granted. We're seizing life by the horns, trying to savor each moment with loved ones. There are always lessons to be learned and sometimes God uses whatever resources he has to teach us those lessons. The lessons I learned are that life in fact is unpredictable and we never know when we'll be thrown a curveball... (or in my case, a screwball).. I've learned that the power of forgiveness is in all of us and it is so instrumental in my life. In everyone's life, actually. I've learned that while some things are better left unsaid, most are not. ANDsome of these things I learned in strange order but just as well. Yes, 2008 was quite a side show but I feel like I've grown so much as a person and have gained strength I didn't know I had. I feel as blessed today as I did before the hellish year we had. I know that those plights were all just part of life's journey.
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."