It’s been a while.

I haven’t felt the need to write lately, mainly because I feel like no one cares what I have to say. But tonight, I have that heavy, anxious feeling in my chest as if words are slowly filling up my veins, and if I don’t let them bleed out, then I will undoubtedly explode.

There are so many topics, sentences, and questions flowing through me – how do I pick out what to write down? After months upon months of nothing, why is this happening now? Words often flow through easier through my veins when I am in a state of depression, so my mental stability comes into question. I know I have been feeling more down and emotional lately, but surely my body realizes that I don’t have time to fall into a state of depression. Right?

Time has made a habit out of making the loss of a loved one easier. Time, this time, has failed me. It has been two years, three months, and six days since I lost my father. The longer he’s gone, the more of my life he’s missing, and the more it hurts like no pain I have ever experienced before. I can feel the emptiness swell through my body like a disease that eats every ounce of energy and happiness that I have left. Mannequins enjoy life more than I do sometimes.

I earned my Associate’s Degree (although useless, it’s still somewhat of an accomplishment), graduated with honors, on the Dean’s List, and a member of two National Honor Societies. You weren’t there, and honestly, I didn’t really want to be there either. I transferred to the university that I swore I’d never go to. I got into the Social Work program, and I’m a member of a couple of organizations. But I haven’t been able to tell you that. You haven’t been able to tell me that you’re proud and that you love me.

That’s what hurts so deeply, Dad. My life is moving forward without you in it. Some days, I want to just stand still. I want to quit, go back to bed, and never wake up. I want to be where ever you are. You are supposed to be here, at least until I’m done with school and get married. No twenty-four year old should have to lose their father. I’ve thought I was an adult since I was a teenager, but losing you was a harsh slap in the face. I still need my daddy, so come back. Come back and guide me, love me, and show me all of the things that I still need to know.

I live in two different realities:

  1. Depression, anxiety, sadness, irritability, anger, swollen eyes, exhaustion, migraines, aches, and pains. Nothing is worse than the sound of my alarm. I dread the thoughts of simply existing. I lack motivation. What is the point in all of this? Why do I stretch myself so thin all of the time? Why do I try so hard and care so much? We are all going to die anyway.
  2. My passions overwhelm me and I have too many things I want to get done. I am ready to start my day with a shower and an iced latte. The weather is beautiful and I want to sit outside, feel the sunshine, and listen to the birds sing. I feel my depression awakening, but I’m able to put her back to sleep. I put my anxiety back to bed as well. I’m able to overcome my negative emotions and everything is okay. I am going to change the world for the better.

To those who don’t struggle with mental illness, I may seem like a manic mess. To those who can relate, they know that this is a normal part of life. To outsiders unaware of my internal struggle, they would never assume anything was wrong. I seem like a ‘normal’ person. Some days, I even feel sort of normal.

My veins no longer feel like they are going to explode from the accumulation of unsaid words. Self-care is important, necessary even. Writing is self-care for me. I am still learning to love and respect myself.

Time. Everything takes time.

Fiery Sign

As I look into the night sky,
I think of you.
Are the Heavens up above?
Is it just endless blue?
I ask, if you can hear me, to summon a shooting star
to shoot across the night sky, so that I know that you can hear me from afar.
Looking up, hopeful, I wait for my fiery sign;
but, to my disappointment, nothing catches my eye.
If you could hear me, my sweet father, I know you’d show me a sign.
In this moment, yet again I wonder, if there is an after life.

Some days,

Some days, like today, I feel like the world is caving in around me. All of my progress seems to run away and I’m left empty and tired. Sleeping never helps, although it can be a good escape. It’s a good escape if my dreams stray from turning into nightmares that wake me in a cold, abrupt, sweat. Tears wash my mascara onto my acne-prone cheeks as I sit, in the fetal position, in my bathroom floor. I don’t know why, but that’s always seemed like the best place to cry, especially on a pile of dirty towels I’ve let accumulate over the week. Sometimes, I can hear his voice in my head so perfectly that it’s like he’s whispering in my ear; some days, like today, I have to strain to hear, “I love you too, sweetheart.” That’s my only comfort.. that, and remembering his smile. Some days, like today, I feel like he should still be here; I yearn to put my head on his left shoulder and smell his comforting and familiar scent. He’d wrap his arms around me and I’d tell him how much I love him; he’d tell me the same in return. I’d give anything for one more hug, although I know one more would never be enough. Some days, unlike today, I feel like he’s been gone an eternity. Those days are a little easier, though not much. Even on those days, it’s usually easy to hear his voice in my head. Today, I’m sad, empty, broken, and lost. Tomorrow, who knows. I’ll end my day missing you, only to wake up the same; maybe tomorrow will be an easier kind of pain.

f a i t h

Faith is no longer, nor has been for a very long time, enough to get me through the day. Faith, to me, is an optimistic lie you tell yourself to feel better about something that you desperately need to be true; having faith means you know what you are telling yourself can not be proven. Otherwise, we would not need faith.. we would just know. I realize that faith is a wonderful tool for many people, but I need fact. I need proof. I need a sign that what I am believing is real. My mind identifies faith as a coping mechanism; my mind also needs to deal with life as it is, not what I tell myself it is. My mother tells me that faith grows stronger with age, and I do desperately hope that is true for me. My mind has always questioned what I have been told and sought to find answers that make sense to me. I am not certain that I will ever find the answers that I am looking for, but I will never stop trying.

1/9/2016

I would give anything to turn back time and take away the disease that took everything from you; since I am unable to do such a thing, I am simply thankful for the precious time that we spent together and how much I learned about life. Watching you slowly lose all of the things I take for granted taught me a lot about what’s important in life. Even when you lost the ability to speak, eat, or drink, the love for your family was something that couldn’t be taken. Until you had no strength left to move, you always let me know that you love me. The last month of your life that we spent together showed me what I need to do with my life; you showed me my calling. Every one of us has to die, and we should all feel as loved and cared for as you did; we should never have to leave this earth feeling alone or abused. For you, daddy, I’m going to try and help as many old souls and their families as I can; I want to offer words of experience, of compassion, and of hope. Thanks to you, and all that I learned, I know that I can do this.

I’ve always believed in the supernatural. I’ve never seen a spirit, but I’ve believed those who say they have. Psychics who can talk to the dead seem convincing, knowing things that seem to prove their authenticity.

I’ve never felt more alone in my entire life. I always viewed the afterlife as, in some way, overlapping life here on earth. Up until now, I’ve never felt so confined. For the first time since my dad’s death, I’m actually realizing that he’s gone. He is actually gone.

I’ve cried until my insides ached. I have begged my dad to let me know he is okay. I’ve begged him to show me a sign, to flicker a light, to say something.. but he hasn’t. I’ve asked God why; why do other people claim to have seen loved ones, talk with them, feel their hands around them, and I get nothing? My dad was ALWAYS there when I needed him, but not now. I begged and begged with the deepest parts of me; I told my dad that I needed to know that he is okay. If he heard me and saw my pain, why couldn’t he show me? I know if he heard me, and was able, that he would. If others can have closure, why can’t I? Is everyone else just lying to themselves as a coping mechanism? Can the dead really communicate with us? I don’t know. All I know is that my dad is gone and I’m not okay.

My mind no longer sees earth and ‘Heaven’ as connected. I see an impenetrable wall around everything that I know. I feel closed off and scared. Death stole my father and I don’t know where it took him. The past twenty-four years of my life, I’ve had my dad. Suddenly, I’m supposed to just be okay without him? I’m supposed to just accept that he’s gone with no explanation as to where he went? I’m supposed to accept that other people have talked to or seen their passed loved ones, but I haven’t? Call me selfish, but I need to have that same experience. If I can’t know that my dad is okay, then no one else should be able to have the comfort of knowing their loved ones are okay. Screw that and screw everyone else.

Until I have answers, and proof, then I’m going to be angry. I’m angry that this life is so cruel and it doesn’t get any better. We are all going to die in the end, but to go where? To just disappear? We spend our life being the best we can, raising a family, comforting friends, being charitable, making memories, spreading love, creating an identity for ourselves. How can losing the last bit of air in our lungs just take all of that away? Our body is merely a shell for everything that lies within us, so where do we go? Where does the deepest and most beautiful parts of us go? I can’t make myself believe that we just disappear into nothing. My father can’t just vanish; he meant too much to just go away forever.

How am I supposed to be okay without knowing that he is okay?

The afterlife stole my father;

My father passed away on December 1, 2015 at 1:38pm only a moment after I had read “My sweet father,” aloud; my mother was holding his left hand, and I was holding his right. He went peacefully with the two people who meant the most to him, his “girls.”

Over a week later.. This still isn’t real. I built a very strong emotional wall while caring for my father the last month and a half of his life; I had to focus 100% on his needs and had no time or energy to deal with my emotions on the matter. That wall is refusing to come down. Saying “your father is dead” is no different than saying “the sky is purple;” it isn’t real. I don’t believe you. My dad can’t be dead, because I’m only 24. I need him. He has to give the guy of my dreams permission to ask my hand in marriage. He has to walk me down the isle. He has to see me graduate from college. He has to see me be successful. He has to remind me to rotate my tires and change fluids that I don’t even know exist. He has to meet his future grandchild. He has to tell me that he loves me and that he’s proud of me. He has to fuss at me for being stubborn. He has to tell me not to get anymore tattoos. He has too much left to do.. He can’t be gone.

I need you, daddy.

My sweet father,

When words have lost their meaning,
When the light can no longer reach your eyes,
I hope you know that I am with you;
I hope you know that I have never left your side.

Mother Nature has mourned your passing;
Rain has fallen for days.
The sun is hidden behind a thick sheet of clouds.
She refuses to smile; she will not show her rays.

When God has made your final arrangements,
He will lift you up in his gentle hands.
My sweet father, you’ll no longer be in pain.
You will find happiness and peace in a magical far off land.

One day, we will be together again;
Until then, know that I love you with every fiber of my being.
You are not only my father, but also my best friend.
You will always be a part of me;
Our bond will never end.

In this life, LOVE is most important.

I am sitting by my father’s bed listening to his labored breathing. His vitals are no longer good; his heart is working over time, he’s feverish, clammy. He can’t eat or drink. He hasn’t opened his eyes at all. His nurse said he has a couple days, no more than a week. My mother and I are giving him morphine around the clock so he remains comfortable.

A chaplain stopped by today to talk with me and my mom; we all stood and prayed over my dad’s bed.

I’ve learned a lot about life the past month that I’ve been home with my father. I’ve learned who cares about me and who doesn’t. I’ve learned to make sure I let my emotions out in a healthy way. Mostly, I’ve learned what’s important in this life: love. As my father is lying here dying, the only thing I can give him is my love. I can no longer feed him, give him a drink, bathe him, talk with him, laugh with him, or even watch TV with him. All he can accept from me at this point is my unconditional love for him. I could be offered a million dollars to leave his side, and I wouldn’t.

Watching a parent die, especially being as young as I am, is one of the hardest things I’ll ever go through. Dementia has stolen everything from him over this past year; the father that I grew up knowing has been gone a long time. I feel so many emotions. I’m sad that I’m losing my father. I’m angry, very angry, that I’m losing my father. I’m thankful that I’ve had him in my life this long, but I hate that I won’t have him longer. I’m anxious. I’m nervous. I don’t want him to stay in pain, but I also don’t want to let go. If I ever get married, he won’t be there to walk me down the isle. He won’t be at my college graduation. I won’t be able to give him a grandchild. He can’t answer questions I have about my car. He won’t be able to make sure the first house I buy is in good shape. He won’t be able to do any of the things that I need from him. The most terrifying of all is that he can’t ever tell me that he loves me again.

Update 11/28/15-11/29/15

Yesterday, my¬† dad would barely open his eyes. He ate a little, as long as it was soft (pudding, applesauce, mashed potatoes). He drank quite a bit. His blood sugar stayed very low, so my mother and I gave him sugared soda to keep it up. He was clammy for most of the day and his body temperature felt cold to the touch. He had many hand tremors that would sometimes spread to his face. His hands stayed busy for a majority of the day: rubbing his face, scratching his head, touching his lips, feeling the blanket. Vocally, he wasn’t very responsive; he could muster out “yeah” or “no” most of the time when asked a question. My mom and I got a smile and a laugh out of him once when we were telling him how handsome he is. During the evening, he kept reaching his hand out like he saw someone standing at the foot of his bed; my mom and I asked him several times, “Who do you see? Who are you reaching for?” but he could never respond. All day, he seemed peaceful, but very busy at the same time. I believe there’s a lot going on in his mind that I can’t comprehend. From what I’ve read online and from talking to the hospice nurse, this is a time of transition for him; his soul is between his physical body and the afterlife. Maybe he’s seeing passed loved ones waiting for him on the other side, or maybe angels or messengers are talking to him about what’s happening. All that I know is, what he has in the physical world is no longer of much importance to him. As much as I want him to open his eyes and tell me that he loves me too, I’m afraid he will never be able to do that again.

Today, my dad hasn’t opened his eyes at all, nor will he eat or drink. He has woken a few times earlier in the day, but only for a brief moment. He is less responsive than yesterday. His nurse stopped by this morning to take a look at him; all of his vitals are good. She told us that if he doesn’t want to eat or drink, don’t force it. If he needs something, he will let us know. Usually when I go over to his bed to hug and kiss him, he will wake up and I can tell that he knows I’m there; a few moments previous to writing this, my presence no longer woke him up.

Dementia is a roller coaster of a disease; one day, someone can be alert and understand what’s going on around them, but that can quickly change. Every day, even every hour, can be different from the last. In my dad’s case, I don’t think he will have anymore good days. From the signs he is showing, his body is trying to shut down. This process is different for every person; sometimes it takes days, and sometimes it takes weeks. It’s important for my mother and I to stay with him so he knows he isn’t alone. It’s important for us to tell him we love him, even though he can’t respond. It’s important for me to thank him for being a wonderful father and letting him know how important he is to me. It’s important to me that he leaves this earth feeling as admired as a king.

 

If you find yourself taking care of someone who is ill and/or dying, these tips may help you:

If pills become too hard to swallow, don’t buy a plastic pill crusher because they are more trouble than they are worth. Order a mortar and pestle (I got mine off of Amazon for cheap with free shipping) and your pills will be completely in powder form.

If blood sugar is low and needs to be quickly brought up without food, a sugared cola with a couple tablespoons of simple syrup works wonderfully. Glucose tablets can also be crushed up and put in a sweet drink.

If the person who is sick will not open their mouth to eat or drink, try gently touching the straw or spoon to their lip so they can sense that something is there.

While taking care of someone who is ill, to avoid getting them anxious or upset, talk them through everything that you are doing; while changing their diaper, tell them every step as you are doing it. When feeding, always say “here’s a bite/drink” before putting the spoon or straw up to their mouth. Even if they can’t comprehend what you’re saying, a familiar voice may be comforting.

Never argue or debate. Never.

Try to avoid showing any negative emotions in your voice if at all possible, whether it be anger or sadness. Talk slowly and gently.

As blood flow slows down, a person is more likely to get cold; make sure you keep enough blankets around.

If something isn’t absolutely necessary, don’t do it. It puts more work on yourself and adds to their level of discomfort.

Don’t hesitate to call your hospice nurse, home health nurse, primary care doctor, on-call nurse line, etc. If you are every scared or have a question, that is what those people are there for. This is a scary time, but being informed can make it a lot less scary.