I tell you, "I'm fine. Yeah, just fine."
I've lost my Dad and I don't have the words to explain to you what that's like or how much better I must be doing 10 months later.
This is me trying to explain what losing my Dad was like.
I didn't want to sleep. I went to sleep and I would dream one of two things: 1) I would relive what happened, from Dad seizing to me giving him CPR to Dad going into cardiac arrest on the Thursday afternoon to finally watching him die on the Saturday. 2) I would dream that everything was back to normal. That real life was the nightmare and my dream was reality. Both are fucking agonizing to awake from.
I didn't want to sleep but I was exhausted from crying. My eyes were perpetually swollen from the tears. I could have filled buckets with the amount that I cried. I probably cried more in the 3-4 weeks following Dad's heart attack than I have in the rest of my life combined. And if you know me at all, that's saying something.
I was terrified. CS Lewis said, "no one ever told me that grief felt so like fear." I was terrified of the present, I was terrified that I hadn't been as good of a daughter as I should have been in the past, I was terrified of the future. A future that might or might not contain my Dad.
I have never felt fear so acutely as I did when Dad went into cardiac arrest in the hospital on his 4th day there. There's an alarm on each patient's room in the ICU, and when they go into cardiac arrest, the alarm sounds and the intercom blares across the hospital "CODE BLUE, CODE BLUE, ROOM ___." We'd heard it several times that week for other rooms in the ICU, but there is no greater fear than the fear I felt when I heard the intercom say "ROOM 104." First it was denial--"no, I heard that wrong. They didn't say his room number." Then reality hit. And we sprinted around the corner and down the hallway. We were sobbing as we realized that he could die right here. And we weren't ready. Before his code blue, we were still holding onto a hope that he might wake up. Afterward, it was clear that he wasn't getting any better. But I will never forget that fear, the awful, helpless fear when someone is dying right in front of you and there is absolutely nothing you can do but watch.
I wished I hadn't had hope. I wished that I had known, from the moment of his heart attack, that he was going to die. I wished I hadn't had hope that he might come out of his coma. Hope told me that there was a possibility that he might not die. That things would turn out okay. And they didn't.
I cannot tell you the number of times I have asked myself, "Why?" There is no answer to the why. We will never, ever know why he had a seizure and a heart attack. We will never know why he didn't survive it. I called 911 mere seconds after we realized something was wrong. I started CPR within minutes. The ambulance arrived within 5 minutes of my phone call. We did everything "right." They tell you that these are the things you're "supposed to do" when someone has a heart attack. But it still wasn't enough.
I did want to talk to people but I also didn't because it made it more real. It was a blessing in that it was a distraction--if I was talking to someone, I wasn't thinking about how a machine was breathing for my Dad just around the corner and 3 doors down. But every time I started talking to someone new, it was like a smack in the face. They're here and they're comforting me because my Dad is in a coma. What the fuck.
I didn't want to know what was on the news and I didn't want to know what people were doing on Facebook because knowing meant that the earth was still turning. And the earth I was on had come to a shuddering halt.
It was surreal. People make this analogy all the time, but it was literally like a nightmare that I couldn't wake up from. It's like when you have a dream that's similar to real life, except everything is going wrong and it just seems to go on and on and on. Eventually, you wake up from the nightmare, cold and clammy, but you're still scared because it just felt so real. This is life when someone you love dies. Ten months out, life feels more "normal" now, but I still haven't woken up from my nightmare.
All these things are wrapped up in the "I'm doing fine." I'm not lying to you. I am doing fine. But I can't possibly find the words to tell you what fine means.