The Day After

I jerked-up and stared at the clock, two-something in the morning was all that registered before I said, “It’s not time to get up yet.” Apparently, I said it loud enough to wake-up Dave. “Who are you talking to,” he asked when he saw me sitting straight up, staring at the clock.

Unable to comprehend exactly what was going on, all I knew was I felt like I did some thirty-five years ago, when my parents would try to wake me for school. Feeling a little confused, I said, “I don’t know,” and then laid down and went back to sleep. Less than two hours later, at exactly four a.m., my cell phone rang.

“You have an alarm set for some reason?” Dave asked me as I lunged across the room looking for my phone.

“No, someone is calling,” I said.

“At four in the morning?”

“Yeah,” I replied, “which means it can’t be good.” Seeing that the call was coming from Mom and Dad Mobile made my heart sink. Realizing that it would be 3 a.m. their time, did not make me feel any better. I then started to panic when my phone refused to respond to my finger sliding across it. “Answer, damn it,” I instructed my phone. It would not comply.

Within seconds, I was calling the number back. My mom answered, “Susie?”

“Yes,” I confirmed, “mom, what’s wrong?” I could tell she had been crying.

“We’ve lost your dad,” she exclaimed, and then started sobbing uncontrollably.

Part of my brain was not getting this. Part of me wanted to say, lost him where? although I knew that I knew exactly what she meant – my dad died.

“NOOO!” I cried at the top of my lungs, and then asked, “Where are you?”

Part of me was still hoping that her answer to this would clear everything up, and that my dad really was just lost or something.

“I’m at the hospital,” she said, solidifying the fact that I did not want to accept.

“Oh my God,” I cried, “what happened?”

“Well, he had an episode, I called 9-1-1, did CPR until they got there, and …” just then, the doctor had come to talk to my mom. I heard her say that she suspected the cause of death to be a pulmonary embolism. “Suze, I’ll call you back,” my mom said.

“Wait – what are you going to do,” I wanted to know. Suddenly, I was super concerned about my mom’s state of mind. “What hospital are you at, how did you get there, do you have a way home?” I felt a bit frantic as my thoughts shifted to, how in the world is my mom going to get through this?

“Harvey drove me to the hospital, and Pastor Adam came,” she informed me.

“Oh good,” I said, I’m sure sounding very relieved. “Okay, call me back.” That was the start of the saddest day of my life.

Twenty-four hours later, I was heading to the airport with a one-way ticket. That afternoon, on Halloween, my mom and I met with the funeral director to decide the details for my dad’s memorial service. It was still the saddest day of my life.

The following week, my spouse, my brothers, their spouses, and about half of our parents’ nine grandchildren arrived for my dad’s memorial on November 10, 2018. Approximately 45 family members stayed for lunch afterwards. Then I learned all about “Bedlem,” and as OU beat OSU, the saddest day of my life continued.

Two days after that, my spouse, my brothers – everyone was gone, heading back home – back to their lives. A deeper level of overwhelming sadness came upon me. For two days, I gave myself permission to do absolutely nothing. Almost. I wound up watching three seasons of “The Americans” on Amazon Video.

Over two weeks it took to complete the saddest day of my life – just in time for Thanksgiving. Which brings us to today – the day after. Standing outside today, in unseasonably warm 60-degree weather at one of my dad’s favorite places – a place he affectionately referred to as “The Buffalo Ranch,” I suddenly thought of my dad possibly feeling “left out,” if there were such a thing in Heaven.

Feeling “left out” is no stranger to me, although it has been a while since I have. Learning how humans either come from a place of love or a place of fear, changed all of this for me, and much more. I decided to think that my dad, being the loving person that he was, would be happy that we are here, even if it has to be without him. I also think he would be one of the first to offer me a sunrise in bed, especially knowing how I don’t do breakfast first thing.


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