Sunday, March 17, 2013

Still Sorting Through It.....

I tossed and turned all night on Sunday. I had clinicals at Lake County Jail and had to be there by 7am. I am always afraid that I'll over sleep and was nervous about going, so I woke almost every hour to check the time on my phone.

At 3:58a I rolled over, grabbed my phone just in time to see a message from Beth, my dad's wife, pop up saying 'Call me.'

I hopped out of bed and went to the family room so I wouldn't wake Mike. I called. No answer. I texted. No response. I sat for about 15 minutes and then went back to lay in bed. I cradled the phone under my ear to be sure I heard it if she called. At 4:12, she called. I asked what was wrong and she asked to talk to Mike. I woke him and handed him the phone. He sat up and didn't say much. He hung up and took a deep breath. It seemed like hours until he finally said "Your dad is in a coma. He is unresponsive and they're not sure what's wrong. They're moving him to ICU. Beth is on her way there now." I pelted him with 100 questions - all of which he had no answers to. Mike held me and I cried. I knew from the click of that first text that my dad was gone. I kept telling myself that he's stubborn and will wake up and laugh at how worried we all are....but he never would.

I went back to the family room. I could'nt sleep and I needed more answers - and coffee. I called the hospital's {in Stockbridge, GA where he was} Cardiac ICU. The secretary was nice, but could give me no info. She must've heard the panic in my voice as I tried to hold it together. She said the team was still in his room and the doctor would speak with family as soon as they arrived.

I sat. And stared. I couldn't think, couldn't pray, couldn't even sip my hot coffee. I called my brother to let him know. He was steady and comforting. At about 4:45 my phone rang and it was Beth on the other end. She was paniced, out of breath, and crying. She said she was on her way out the door and a nurse just called and asked that she hurry - my dad had gotten 'more critical'.

The rest of the morning is a blurr. I texted my sister and she called back and sobbed when she heard the news. I had to keep my composure to get the kids ready for school and fed. I called my professor and she said I should be home and not to worry about clinicals. My friend took Park to school and our sitter came to be with Rae and Hunter.

Beth texted me around 8 and said we had some decisions to make. She wouldn't text back or answer my calls. I was upset and called Mike. He said he was on his way home. I knew he had talked to Beth. He knew something and I knew nothing. He came in and said dad had to have surgery. He had a bleed on his brain. They had to open up his chest to get his heart regulated and to stop the bleed. He had no chance of survival without the procedure and very slim chance of making it through the surgery....

I cried. I was numb. I was mad. Mike got the kids situated and we headed to the church. We sat in the empty santuary and cried, talked, and were comforted by our Pastor. The entire staff prayed over us. We left and I updated the family via text.

We went to Bob Evans and had breakfast. We went to pick up drawings for a job mike is doing and then to Uptown Cafe to meet our youth ministry leader. When I walked in the door. My phone rang. It was Beth. The neurologist had come in to check dad. His pupils were dilated and fixed and dad had no reflexes. A sure sign that his brain had died. I cried and stared. My dad was gone. We were asked to come as soon as possible.

We got into Atlanta at 12:30 p.m. Monday night. I walked into dad's room. He looked peaceful. An NG tube in his nose. Mutiple IV lines and an arterial line in either arm. A catheter in place. Leads on his chest. An endotracheal tube placed in his mouth to breathe for him. He was on medications; lots of meds. To control his heart rate, keep his kidneys working, something for regulating blood pressure.... {All my nursing school knowledge flew out the window when I stepped in his room}My dad - always strong and bold and loud. That day was quiet and unresponsive. I had cried all day and most of the drive down - so I held it together when I saw him. I held his hand and talked with him. I kissed his head and told him we'd be back the next morning.

We got a hotel room and slept from 3:30a to 6:30a and went back to his bedside.

The next week is still like a fuzzy, bad dream. I sat with my dad on his bed, holding his hand. I really felt like he would hear me and wake up. Even just blink or squeeze my hand back. I told him he had to wake up - he could not leave with out saying goodbye. It wasn't fair. I didn't eat and filled up only on coffee.

People were in and out of the room. So many people who saw me asked "You're Fred's baby girl aren't you? He adored you and talked about you all the time" {I know I was his favorite ;)} I met some of dad and Beth's friends, but I can't remember their names or even what they looked like- I didn't want them there. I wanted to scream that they needed to stop planning dinner and what errands they needed to run and leave. Some of them giggled and joked around - I was furious. I sat with my back to them, staring at my dad. This was my last time with him. I hated them for being ok. I was watching the only constant in my life slip away. His hand must've bruised from how tightly I squeezed and rubbed it for three days straight.

There is so very much more to this story - but I don't want to remember those details. Things got hard and kinda bad between us and his wife. She would not accept that he was gone and let his body rest until the doctor stepped in and told her that under Georgia state law, once a person is proclaimed brain dead they must be taken off life support. It was a long, ugly day. But I knew my dad wouldn't want a fight. So I stayed with him. I prayed, and we 'talked'.

We got home on Thursday late afternoon. My dad passed away at 1 a.m. on Friday March 8. I was not there. I am still trying to be okay with all that happened. With not being outside that OR when he finally went home. I loathe his wife for going home. For falling so deeply into sleep and not keeping me updated. That I sat by the phone and wondered if he was still fighting....Did they take him off the vent and he breathed on his own? Was he in pain? Aware of what was happening?? My mind went crazy.....I got a text from Beth the next morning. An 'oops! I fell asleep and forgot to call' {Father, help me to accept the things I can not change - and to be KIND!!} We all grieve differently and I know it's not up to me to tell others how or what they should do in a time like this.

He was a full organ donor. His beautiful blue eyes gave the gift of sight to someone. His kidneys are giving life to two people. And his liver and spleen were donated as well.

My God is soverign. His timing is immaculate and perfect. His will is good and His heart only loves. It is not to me to question Him.

But I am left with a hurting heart. I am a 29 year old orphan - my mom is not stable or healthy nor any part of my life, and my beloved pop is in heaven. I haven't had the chance to fall apart - I had to keep it together to plan his memorial, to get family in town, to arrange hotles, make decisions, and continue on with school, kids, chores, life.

I have been assured there will be a time to sort through all the 'yuck' that's left. Emotions, questions, hurt, anger, and sadness. I am resting in the fact that my dad is so very much enjoying fishing, dancing, feasting, and laughing with his Heavenly Father.

 I just miss him. I have called his phone more times than I care to admit just to hear his voice on his outgoing message. He is a beautiful soul and I know he's exactly where he's meant to be.....


  1. Audrey,

    I'm Nicole Shaw, a LTYM castmate.

    I want you to know that I'll be praying for you and your family. That I've shared similar trials. When I was 20 I buried my father after he died alone of a heart attack in his bathroom.

    No one has the same story or the same grieving process, I don't pretend to know yours. And yet, we share an understanding. Know that there is someone out there who shares and understanding and whose prayers will be ever more sympathetic because of it.

    God grant you peace.


  2. Audrey,
    Kris Livovich, another castmate. I lost my dad to cancer when I was 22. Echoing Nicole, we all have different stories, but we can all grieve for you. Prayers for you right now.