I don't want to be a liar, but I kind of am. I was. Well, if omission counts for lying then yes I was a liar. Before you judge me for it let me first say I have a very good reason for doing what I did. It started off as act of weak will. I'm too much of a people pleaser to just say "no". That's where he got me. He being my Dad he pushed it on me to be a nurse, to go to school to be one. If I was a stronger person, daughter, I would have said no. I did for a little while. . .then he said he wouldn't pay for my schooling. My answer changed really quickly then.
When I set out for college the instant I got there I switched my major from undecided to nursing. I was as happy to be there as they were to have me. yeay!!. . .
I didn't want to be one, I spent my first few weeks of school trying to figure a way out of it. Every weekend I came home and I opened my mouth, nothing came out. When my parents asked how school was going I would smile and shake my head. Always to hear my falsely enthusiastic voice say. "Great!" before escaping upstairs to my room. I was a coward. I needed to stand up to my Dad, tell him this is my life and I will live it how I want to.
"Yes, I am your little girl but I need to be a big girl and make my own decisions." It sounded nice and neat in my head. I wish it had worked out that way instead of how it really happen.
Six weeks into school, I got a phone call from my sister. "Dad's in the hospital. Why aren't you home yet?" I knew this Mom called the day before and said he went in and he was fine. I shouldn't worry. Those had been her exact words. I told them to my sister but that's not what she said. Her news was so bad that I had a friend drive me home.
Having your world crash down around you isn't always messy. Sometimes it is so neat and silent that you would never know it was happening if you didn't see it on the faces of the people around you. If you didn't have to look at the aftermath sometimes you would never know something was wrong at all. Sometimes things get that out of your control.
As I walked through the doors of Memorial Hermann I knew something was wrong so wrong that nothing would ever be the same. My Daddy was in a hospital bed hooked up to machines that beep and made ringing noises. A breathing mask was over his mouth and every other second you could see the fog of his breath come through. You didn't know he was alive any other way. His chest barely rose, and his hands were so cold I shuddered and nearly dropped it. This was my Dad but this wasn't my Daddy.
Everyone has that someone in their life that seems so invincible it seems ridiculous that any thing humanly bad could happen to them. My Dad was mine, to see him like that froze my world like the doctors had done to his body to keep him alive. His heart wouldn't beat on its own and they needed time to find a new one, they put him on a pacemaker to make it beat. They told us we would have to be patient for a donor then a match, we could have one in a couple of days or it could take months. It's like being told you have to wait for the ice cream truck and he is out of Dreamsicles.
It didn’t matter if we found a donor or not, Dad was tired. That what my Mom decided to describe it as. Daddy didn’t like pain and everything they did to him- while necessary, was painful. He was tired and hurting physically, his heart stopped beating the night after they put the pacemaker in. It just. . .stopped. Stillness settled on the room, on me. I was the only one in there. I didn’t know what it meant at first what the silence meant, silence to me had once been a kind of peace but as the doctors and nurses threw open the door and raced in it held nothing but shock and pure disbelief. It cradled my grief while I had to hide my own tears when the machines didn’t start beating again. I didn’t think Dad would want me to cry but it couldn’t help when I followed the Doctors into the room when they told my Mom, my sister, my whole family. They let the horrible truth into my whole world.
That was the moment I would have given anything to have taken his place so he could be the one to be strong and comfort my mother and my sister, my Nana and Popa, so he could have been the one that took charge and pretended like his heart wasn’t breaking into shard that splashed into his stomach. I wanted to switch places with him so that I could feel the peace that I prayed with all my heart he was having in his.
We didn’t go home that night, instead my mom, sister and I stayed with my grandparents. None of us could stand going home. It would have been to. . . intrusive. At home there was no indication that we had lost anyone. No clue that something drastic in our lives had changed forever. Everything sat just as we had left it everyday. We took our knowledge to Granny’s.
Curled up in the guest bedroom it was hard not to feel guilty. Why had I been in the room when he died? Why me? I had been curled up like I was now, under my fuzzy blanket, Ipod shoved in my sleeve with the headphones curved behind my ear with the music off.
I liked music when I slept, that night I don’t know what compelled me to talk about school. It could have been knowing that he could hear me without being able to comment. I wish he had been able to. His approval meant everything to me.
His trip to the hospital showed me what a nurse was, how they interacted with their patients, and the family. They were organized, efficient and compassionate and totally in control of themselves. I don’t know how they could see what they did everyday and still manage to smile and joke and be as compassionate as they were. They all managed. I wanted to be like them, I want to be a nurse. I told him this, the doctor told us to talk to him and it would help him wake up. I did, we all did. My whole family talked his ears off until they hid and whimpered. A small part of me wondered when I told him this if I made him so happy his heart stopped. No one could answer that I only knew that when the doctors turned on the lights there had been a smile on his lips. he had been smiling at us, that small smile that said in that quiet way that he was happy and all was well.
For me that wasn’t the case, everything was far from well. I was, am a Daddy’s girl and the same goes for my sister. Our Dad meant the world to us, his laugh, smile. His face, his words. It’s funny, his smell was always comforting. I never felt like I had to worry about anything because he was always there, pushing and encouraging. Even when I didn’t want to do something that he put me up to. From stealing a cookie to high school marching band. I would sulk and he was still my biggest supporter. He still is.
I started off as a Nursing major because it was something my Dad wanted me to do. Now I am doing it for me. To prove I can be like them, I can help save a life. I can comfort a family. I’m doing it to show that I can. Also, to fulfill a promise I didn’t realize I had made until I made my Daddy so proud his heart stopped.
This will be the narrative of how I get there. One Day at a time.