It was just a normal Sunday in 2015 when my then fiance and started our "normal" day with painting our deck. A few hours later, I needed to go back inside to take a break from the heat. As I sat on the bed, I received a 911 call from Cedar County. This phone call would change my life forever. The woman on the phone is telling me they were sending a helicopter to get my father.
I was so confused as to how I had gotten this call and I was somewhat in a blur of what was happening in this moment. My father spent many hours taking care of all the land they had, so surely he became dehydrated while mowing or had even hurt himself while mowing - that’s the only thing I could think of. So I asked where they would be taking him as I wanted to make sure to stay in town if it was Springfield.
I started the frantic calls to my parent's home. I started to get lost in my head of what could be going on. Finally I got an answer and it's my mom who lived in Stockton. She doesn't sound like my mom and she's repeating over and over, "please don't take him, please don't take him." I fell to the floor sobbing, and at this point my fiancé walked in and was quickly filled in on we need to get to Stockton. As we loaded up, we started to take the longest hour drive of our lives and I make the dreaded call to my sister.
I informed her what little information I had and told her it might be best if she stayed in town in case they brought him to Springfield. It was almost 30 minutes into the drive that I received the call from my mom saying "they can't bring him back."
My whole world fell apart that Sunday. My father had a heart attack, which lead to his departure from this life here on earth. Death is so final and I found that you not only mourn the loss of your loved one, you mourn yourself as well. Who you were and will no longer be.
As we arrived to my parents, I saw the helicopter up the road and the EMT along with an ambulance. There were so many people in front of the house whom I didn't know, it felt like a bad scene in a movie. As I approached the house I was stopped by a woman who informed me my mom would meet me outside, that my father's body was lying there on the floor and my mom didn't want me to see him. When she came out, we collapsed on the deck and I just held her as she sobbed and told me how much she loved him. Seeing him wheeled out with a blanket covering him was the moment I realized my father was no longer here. How can my Dad just be gone?
My father has always loved hummingbirds and even nursed one back to health after it had flown into their garage and got stuck. He told me how he fed this little bird sugar water from a dropper and held it for four hours until it finally flew away. The day after his passing, I had my back to our kitchen window and my fiance said "look!" I turned and saw a hummingbird hovering outside our kitchen window. I immediately started sobbing and said "it's from Dad!" I know it was a gift from him, telling me he was okay.
Preparing for my father's service was a tough one - what do I say to people in one sitting about how much I loved and missed my Dad? I decided to read an email from a friend of mine since elementary school. She wrote me thanking him for setting an example of what a family should be as she had come from a broken home and sometimes stayed with us for weeks at a time. She said it all - she wrote what was a true testament to the man my father was. He did anything for anyone and gave with his whole heart.
As I lay on the couch thinking of what music to play, I sobbed and asked my father for help. My mind was such a mess I couldn't think straight. I immediately started typing Pink Floyd "comfortably numb" and "wish you were here". Weeks later, much to my shock, I would find journals from my father who wrote about when he passed he wanted both of those songs played at his funeral...I had no idea when I picked them! I knew he was with me when I chose them!
To say this man was my best friend isn't enough. He was my heart and soul. He is who made me who I am today. He is who I called for advice. He is who I called when we wanted to ramble on and on about how crazy the world has gotten. We had the same love language, buying gifts for people. People even said all the time we had the same legs. We both have a passion for art and thankfully I got one of his pieces of art on my arm for his 50th birthday as a surprise. I'm so glad he got to see how much he means to me.
My father also collected coins, which I now randomly find left places in our house. I ended up speaking to a medium a few months after his passing who told me my Dad called them "heaven cents". I have become spiritual since this tragedy. I do believe now, there is SOMETHING after here. I know where he is, he feels no pain and is smothered with love. He also communicated through the medium that he had caught three fish that day, and he hadn't been able to fish for a few years. His rheumatoid arthritis had gotten so bad he sometimes couldn't even get out of bed.
Death changes you because you become more familiar with it and how final it is. You try to make sure everyone around you feels appreciated. I find myself always looking at others as if they may be fighting a more difficult battle than me. If love comes first when we are dealing with one another, what a better place this could be.
For me that pain will always be there. I'm always aware that he's not here, I can only try to remember that I will see him again. Death is only final here and that when my time comes to give my body back, I'm 100% sure that he will be the first person I see.
I would say my advice for anyone who has lost a parent or loved one is that ANY feeling you are experiencing is OK. It's such a painful process and we mourn the loss of ourselves as well - who we were and who we are no longer. Death comes in waves and sometimes they crash into you and knock you flat on your face. Other days you are riding on the waves and feel ok.
The silver lining... with anything that is dark, light has to follow. Death is final, but I find peace in knowing I will see my Dad again. In the meantime, all I can do is love deeply and spread kindness everywhere I go.