I wrote this on Monday, not sure if I wanted to post it… But I decided that is what my blog is for. So, here goes…. My heart and soul are here for all to see in this one.
I did something on Sunday I had not done in many months. I drove by the hospital. I’m not sure what possessed me to do so as normally I avoid driving past it. When I finished my walk Sunday morning over the causeway, I headed home. This time, I turned onto the street that would take me past the hospital. Not only did I take the street that would take me past the hospital, but I turned ONTO the street the hospital is on. What was I thinking?
I pulled into the parking lot and sat for a few minutes. The parking lot that I pulled in and out of two, three times a day for 30 days when my dad was there. It seemed the same, but different.
As far as the building itself goes, it’s a nice building that faces the gulf, with Clearwater Beach and Sand Key in the distance. It’s a pretty view. But the building itself holds so many feelings and emotions. Walking in there when he first went to the emergency room due to his stomach pain, hoping and praying that whatever it was, was not serious and he would go home soon. Leaving the same day knowing he was being admitted and likely would have to have surgery. The day of the surgery when there was concern that afterwards, he would have to go into ICU due to his age and condition. The elation of his surgery going well and knowing he did not have to go to ICU, but rather a regular room for his recovery. Within 36 hours, the tone began to change and walking into that building took on a stronger, heavier meaning each time, as he was in the critical care unit for days until he finally started to recover. On Friday, Nov. 19, my mom and I took him home. I drove past the parking lot where him and I sat, his first time out in the sun in two weeks. He still was not 100% better but to see him up out of that hospital bed and in his wheelchair and outside was wonderful. He just needed to go home and finish his recovery.
The trip back to the hospital the next night would again change everything. Running into the emergency room, knowing he was being rushed there by ambulance, after possibly having a stroke. How could this be? He went home just the day before, all of his doctors agreed he needed to be home. For the next two weeks, I would come and go every single day, spending 12+ hours in this building. As much time as I could, I was in his room in ICU, the rest of the time I was in the waiting room. Our family took the waiting room over and the hospital never said a word.
This is the hospital that our doctors send us to for routine tests as needed. I’ve had surgery at this hospital myself. My hubby has been to that emergency room twice himself. All the times we had been there, we left well. The day my dad passed away, I walked out of there seeing it as a totally different building, one that I likely would have a hard time ever going into again.
It’s a very strange feeling to leave someone at a hospital. To say goodbye to a loved one, to my Daddy, and walk out of the building knowing he is still in there. Of course I know now that he left there with us and is with us everywhere we go. But I still remember that day very well, it is all very vivid in my mind and likely will be for a very long time. Just being in the parking lot again, I felt a wide range of emotions. Mostly sadness, pain, hopelessness – all thoughts of missing him and knowing I will never see him again. But I also felt a tiny bit of relief. I certainly was not relieved that he had passed away. No… My relief was in looking back on those 4 weeks in the hospital, mostly the last 2 weeks when he was in ICU, and that he did not have to go through that anymore. All the tests, procedures, dialysis, and so on that he endured, most likely without even knowing it. Being on the ventilator, having a feeding tube…. All the things that had we ever had a conversation about it, I know he would now have wanted. The big question then was to do a tracheotomy or not. I struggled with that a lot in those days, as we all did, knowing in my heart that he would not want that, but struggling with the thought of having him for one more day. I am glad, now, that we did not do it. It would have been one more thing for him to go through needlessly.
What happened in that room that day we said goodbye was the hardest thing I have ever been through in my life, but it was also an amazing day. My dad was surrounded by people who loved him and we all had the courage to hold his hand and say goodbye and watch him leave. He always knew he had us with him and I hope and pray that he knew we were right there with him that day, at that moment.
Will I drive by the hospital again? Probably so. At some point it’s likely I’ll have to go inside should the medical need arise. I’ll face that when the time comes. It’s still very surreal and I still have moments where I can’t believe that he’s not here. Tomorrow, the 4th, will be 8 months. 8 MONTHS. I know where I’ll be… Watching the sunset at Crystal Beach in his memory. We love and miss you every day, Daddy….