I just finished up a commercial shoot at the Lake in Moorpark where I was working as a Location Representative since Monday. It was an amazing experience. I loved being there, and working in that capacity gave me much needed purpose and inspiration. I really enjoyed the experience, especially maintaining the integrity of the property, which gave me a pleasurable sense of ownership in it.
So, after an amazing last four days, surrounded by natural beauty and amazing people, I am now at a convalescent home sitting in front of my sedated dad who lost nine pounds since the last time I saw him and who appears to me will die very soon. I write all of this mostly to note the sharp contrast in my experience. It’s like changing channels on the tv; one minute your watching an amazing movie and life feels great, but then you change the channel and now your watching a terrible show and your perspective completely changes. Our experience of life can change that easily. It’s crazy.
My dad is sleeping, his mouth is open, his left hand is clinched into a fist as usual, his legs are like twigs, I can see his bones, his gums have receded exposing gaps between his teeth, and he coughs because he “has laryngitis.” He turns over onto his side and mumbles, “I don’t know why I can’t get any shut eye. Papi taghen, how’s Lucy?” I say she’s fine and I show him some pictures. “Beautiful, beautiful,” he keeps saying as I show him various pictures and videos of Lucy and I. He tells me he wants to sleep while I’m there with him and that he wants me to be there when he wakes up. He starts to dose off as he asks me if I still look at pretty girls even though I’m engaged. I say “No of course not,” and he says, “Good for you, but I mean looking, nothing else,” as he finally falls back asleep.
The room smells, I can hear the sound of his oxygen machine and the hustle and bustle from outside his room and down the hall, people walking by, dishes clanging, cabinets being opened and closed, bells ringing from the help call buttons. He wakes up and says he’s afraid that if he falls asleep that he’s gonna lose me, that I won’t be there. I tell him that I will wake him up before I leave. He apologizes for having to make a bowel movement in front of me and I ask him if he wants privacy while he does it. He says yes.
I’m standing in the hallway now, amongst all the others. People talking, an old man sits in a wheel chair to my front, two others to my back. Somehow, writing about all this makes it less painful, some hope that this moment can be beautiful, if it must be at all. It helps me to share all of this with you, somehow I don’t feel as alone, that this burden is not just mine to bear, even though I’m sure no one will ever even read this. But knowing that someone might and that they might share my pain and be relieved of it in anyway as writing this does for me, that is why I write.
Or perhaps I write to make it unreal, to take myself out of my experience, to pretend that it’s not happening, or that I am just some invisible observer. But it is happening, I am here, my dad is laying next to me, slowly decaying and surely dying. In no way is he living. Of course, he is alive. He is breathing, and talking, his eyes are open, and he is responsive, but he can’t walk, he can barely move, his life is this home, his room, and it seems so hopeless, so joyless. My being there though is a joy for him in some way I’m sure but all I can really do is sit here and stare.
He’s sleeping again. He woke up and asked me if I could smell his movement. I said no. He said “I don’t know how babies do it.” Then he fell back asleep. What should I do? When he wakes up, what can I do to make him feel better, to give the poor remainder of his life some joy, to make myself feel better, less guilty. I will tell him that I love him, that I am scared, that I wish I could help him, that he should be proud of his life, that he helped give life to three happy boys, that I won’t forget about him. I wish I could do more. I feel bad that I can’t. I wish he could live with me and spend his last days with family near him.
I stayed with him for another hour or so. I touched his face as he closed his eyes. I rubbed his head with my palm and pet his eyebrows, nose, and cheeks with my fingers. He begged me to buy him a Coke so I did. He drank it and was in heaven. At least that can bring him some pleasure. I stood above him, staring at his skinny face, almost unrecognizable to me. I cried. I cannot remember the last time I cried. I wiped the water from my eyes with tissue from a box at his bedside. He told me not to cry. I kept my eyes closed, my hand pinching the bridge of my nose as I whimpered. I found something to laugh about, I don’t recall what, and pulled myself out of it. For perhaps the tenth time I stated that I couldn’t stay any longer, that I had to go. I slowly inched away from his bed towards the door, my eyes still watering. We looked at each other, saying I love you, good bye, see you later, he started to dose off and then woke up saying, “I don’t want to fall asleep before you go, I want my eyes to be open while you are still here.”
Eventually, I was able to pull myself out of the room. I sobered up as much as possible to make my way out of the home without drawing to much attention to myself. As soon as I got into my car, I started to cry and wail. I covered my face with my beanie and started to moan. I felt as if I could have stopped at any moment, but I kept hearing my friend Matt’s (fake-name) voice in my head saying, “Learn to live in your emotions.” I didn’t fight it. Cried and cried and moaned and wept. I could have kept crying but I wanted to go home. I gathered myself enough to start the car and get on the freeway. Once on the freeway, I mustered all my strength to focus on driving so as not to endangered myself or others.
That was Thursday night. I’ve spent the last three days fairly depressed. I can’t get the image of my helpless and frail father out of my head. Its Sunday February 15, 2015 now. Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. Lucy and I went to see The Growlers at The Palladium. Brooks gave us tickets and we are so grateful for that. The show was sold out. The show was amazing. I am so happy that they have reached this level of success. They deserve it. Today is mine and Lucy’s one year anniversary of being engaged. We will be married soon. She is sitting next to me. We are in our office.
Tomorrow is a new day. I am going to have to figure out of way to overcome the pain my father’s situation causes me. I want to be there for him, but I can’t let it effect me so negatively. Death is a part of life, its natural, I know that. But its the suffering that pains me so. No one should have to suffer like that.