I made such a conservative effort to prepare myself for the anniversary of my Father’s death. Two years ago, when he was admitted to the hospital for cancer, he died in 11 days, at 1:11 pm, on March 11th. Or so I thought.
The week before his two year anniversary, I practiced “clean living,” which is a term my Dad used to use and it referred to taking extra care of yourself. I worked out a little harder, I ate extra healthy, and I found myself watching interviews with Oprah and Maya Angelou on how to deal with life and hardship and all sorts of cleansing topics.
As Sunday March 11th approached, I felt the anxiety start to rise, and I just wanted it to be over with. Around 1 pm I called my sister so we could share the passing together, and say a prayer and she informed me that he didn’t die on March 11th, he died on March 15th. I was devastated, not cause I had the wrong date, but I needed the whole thing to be over with, and not loom over my head.
So how did I get the date wrong?
When I look back, those 11 days spent on and off in the hospital, felt like four five days or something. It’s as if I blocked out parts of that time, yet, still have vivid memories of moments we shared together. Like the first time I went to visit him, and when I left for the night he said, “I love you.” I can count on one hand how many times in my life my father has said those three words, and to hear it at that time was kinda sad, and scary. But, I remembering turning to him and saying, “I love you more.”
Then the night he had his first round of chemo, I stayed over on a cot by his bed, and had to endure hearing his pain. I remember thinking should I console him, or let him be the “man’s man” that he is, and let him endure it on his own. Do I regret that decision, yeah. Shortly after that he developed septic shock, and had to be transferred to the ICU. It was March madness at the time, and I remember reading the sports section of the LA Times in a dark room. Then things started to unravel fast, and the night before he died I was sleeping by his bed, and remember waking up to a bag full of yellow fluid as his organs started to shut down. There was a full blown team of Doctors trying to save his life, or keep him alive, and all I could think about was, when are we going to have the talk. You know when they pull you into a separate room to say it’s time to say your goodbyes.
We got the talk, and now it was time to turn off the machines. Once again, my sense of time was askew. It felt like it took hours for him to pass when really, according to my sister, it was more like 15 minutes. There really are no words to describe the experience of watching someone die; watching your hero, your best friend, your only father pass onto the other side. When it was over I remember walking outside UCLA hospital into a clear blue sky.
As the two year anniversary approaches, even though it’s two years ago, this time it seems worse. It feels worse. I makes me think that I’ve been in a daze the past two years, and only now are my emotions manifesting themselves. You would think that as time goes on it gets easier, but it hasn’t. I’ve been doing all this work on myself to prepare myself for the anniversary, which I didn’t do last year. I remember I only was effected that day, not a full blown week.
Now I find myself having to deal with all these bubbling emotions for another three days. Thankfully, on March 15th it will be over, and I can return to my life without his death crossing my mind every darn moment of each day.
I share all this with you cause some of you are experiencing death, grieving, morning, and anniversaries, and it is hard. You can do what you can to prepare (hopefully with the correct date of death) and it can take whatever form that fits your needs. You can eat healthy, work out, watch inspirational videos, or, maybe you go to the dark side and act reckless, fight with your loved ones, suffer from nightmares. When it comes to death anniversaries, anything is fair game, but the number one thing I hear myself repeat inside is, “God loves me, God loves me, God loves me.” Which in essence is saying, “I love myself,” despite the pain and regrets.
Having said that, saying those three words has the potential, and ability to you get through any death anniversary.