I’m too young for this is a series of posts that I wrote shortly after the death of my dad. I wrote them so that I would remember. It’s been 2 1/2 years since that day and I’m just now ready to share them. If you missed it you can find part 1 here.
I know the hospital as well as I know my own kitchen by now and in the same way I can reach up into the cupboard while baking and by rote feel grab the bottle of vanilla that’s needed without so much as glancing an eye up to see where it is, I maneuver my way through the vacant halls. I no longer even notice the signs and arrows pointing and leading in the right direction. Those are for newbies. I can duck through double doors and take elevators in a robotic, half asleep fashion and somehow I always end up in the right place and upon arriving think back for just a second not quite knowing how I got there.
The halls are dimly lit and empty. Quiet. Everything is so quiet, but not in a haunting way. It’s a comfortable, everyone is asleep, kind of feeling. The kind that should make you feel warm and cozy and like you should tip toe and turn the handle on the door before you pull it closed so that the latch doesn’t let out a loud thunk. But tonight it just makes me feel like throwing up. The smell in here is different tonight. It smells sick. I try not to screw up my face but continue through the maze of hallways and doors all looking the same as the ones I’d just turned from. My footsteps seem like bricks falling against the silence until I hear the faint chatter of a few nurses in the distance and a phone ringing that noone seems to be answering. Answer the phone. I can’t stand that it’s ringing so many times. It somehow makes me nausiaus.
Rounding the corner into the palliative care unit I see the same familiar faces of the nurses and clerks at the desk that I’d seen every day for the past too many consecutive days to count. We catch eyes and do the polite tight mouthed smile through teary eyes at each other. I wonder if they’re sad. I wonder if this is their normal. I wonder if they really liked my dad or if they were just doing their job. Either way, they did it well so what did it matter.
I pushed my way through the door into what was now known as Peter’s room and didn’t so much as have a thought that I should brace myself for this, I just walked in. Walked in like people walk from one room to another in their own home. Never questioning what they should expect when they enter. Never having the thought to prepare themselves for what might be in the dining room. Just walked in. Auto-pilot. Cruise control. Brushing your teeth. Where was my mind?
Knowing me, like I do as I’ve been myself for 32 years now, if I would have stopped for just 3 seconds and said to myself – Rhonda, your dad has died. You are now about to enter the room in which he died and in which his body still lies. Are you prepared for what you might encounter as you walk in? You don’t have to go in, you know. Everyone will understand. I’m quite certain had I taken those seconds I may have turned and run. But when your mind has been in survival mode for 5 1/2 months you don’t suddenly stop to think about what is going on around you or how exactly it may affect you. You walk in.
Looking back I seemed so brave. People said we were brave. And strong. They said we were strong. But none of us felt brave or the least bit strong. We felt like misfits who didn’t know what you were suppose to do when your parent was dying. We felt awkward when people would say they were sorry and we’d just shrug and say thanks. There was nothing courageous about the lot of us. We were simply a family. Doing what a family does. We were taking care of each other and that doesn’t deserve any sort of honour or medal. It just is.
***You can read the whole “I’m too young for this” series I wrote by clicking here!***