Flashbacks and Anxiety Attacks

What a great way to start a morning.
I didn’t get the greatest sleep last night which I believe led to my vulnerable morning mind.
I stretch and roll over to see the photo of my father on the wall.
In this picture he his making his famous funny face which brings me smile.
Quickly though, and by no fault of my own, I am brought back to the morning of September 1st, 2007.
The day my father died.

My mom, brother, sister, future sister and brother in law, some other family members I cannot think of and myself all sleeping in the family waiting room at a hospital in Boston. I remember I was curled up on a couple of chairs pushed together – a make shift bed for my exhausted mind and body. Someone laid their jacket on me for a blanket, thinking I was asleep. I was not. I was just silent and still and waiting for an opportunity to listen to the doctors update my mom. I wanted to hear the doctors news, not the constructed words my mother would use to tell her youngest daughter that “daddy was dying.” No. What I wanted and waited to hear for so many hours was the doctor say “It’s not looking good. You should think about saying your goodbyes.”

Previous to this memory: My brother and I walking the streets of Boston with a family friend and pastor of the church we all grew up going to. The pastor bought us $100.00 worth of Chinese food to bring back to the hospital to eat. My soon to be brother in law bought me a stuffed horse at the hospital gift shop to comfort me. We are sitting in a conference room with a big long table surrounded by my family members – who – now I believe included my half brother David and his wife Mo. The doctor said “He’s got a 2% chance to make it out of this surgery.” —–

I sob. I keep my eyes shut. I don’t look at anyone in the room. I pull my new stuffed horse to my chest for some level of comfort I knew I needed. My brother, sister, brother in law all comfort me in an instant. I believe I, being so young, was the most vulnerable. The one who didn’t have to act strong. The one who everyone expected to fall apart. I believe my siblings saw that in me and found comfort in us all coming together in that moment. I wish we were still that close.

I was time for our goodbyes. We all walk so quietly past the nursing staff into a big white hospital room with clear glass sliding doors. There were so many noises. So many beeps and machines hooked up to my dad. I’ve never seen so many tubes going in and out of a person to keep them alive. He was on life support. He made it through his triple bypass surgery, but wasn’t going to make it on his own. We all stand against the wall as if we’re bothering my dad. As if we were going to wake up him up from his restful sleep by being too loud. I’ve never been somewhere so loud yet so peaceful. Someone walked me up to my dad, to this day I’m still not sure who that was. I was only staring at my father. This person, probably one of my brothers, told me to tell my Daddy I loved him and to kiss him goodbye. I whispered in his ear and kissed him on the forehead. And was escorted out of his room. I began hyperventilating, getting dizzy and forgetting how to hold myself up enough to walk away. I stood outside those glass doors and stared at my dad. The nurses came and gave me a chair and orange juice so that I didn’t faint.

In my next memory we are walking outside the hospital. Silent. I’ve never been in such a big city and hear nothing.

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