New Year’s Day, Brother got the call. Chatty was fading; her time was short.
Naturally, after hearing from Brother, we both made attempts to call Dad. No answer. I told Brother that I would go over to the house and pick him up and meet at the hospice so we all could be there for Chatty.
On the drive, I called my Mommy. Going to get my Dad to take him to go say his final goodbyes felt like a very big job and I’m just a tiny little person. I called Pretty to send up some prayers. I called and asked one of my Uncles to keep trying Dad’s phone while I drove, I wanted to be safe.
I got to the house and opened the gate, parked the car and ran to the back to see if Dad was on the couch in the living room. I banged on the glass, but the couch was empty. I thought maybe, just maybe, he was upstairs in the bathroom or doing some little project. So I ran around to the front and started banging on the door. I banged on the front door until my knuckles were bruised. I rang the doorbell over and over in between banging the door, I screamed “DAD!” until I thought the neighbors might call the police. But I kept at it. I thought about breaking a window and how pissed off Dad was going to be, so I thought I’d try the back one last time, maybe one of the sliding glass doors would be open.
I was right, one of the sliders came open and I exclaimed “Thank God” and took 3 steps into the dining room.
Then I saw him. Not moving, on the floor. *I’m going to spare you the details, sorry*
I started screaming. I’m not sure how it started or if I was screaming any words. I just know I was screaming. Loud, and from everywhere inside me.
I knew he was dead because he hated when I get emotional and yell or scream or cry. Somehow, amidst my screaming, I managed to call 911 and gave the information and address, then I had to scream again. Raising the phone to my ear again, I gave some more info, then had to scream again. This happened at least 3 times. Each time the dispatchers asked me a quick question and then let me scream. They gave me the time, I gave them the information. They stayed on the line with me until the first responders came. During the screaming, I managed
They made quick work. I don’t even think they stayed in the house longer than 2 minutes. When they came back out, they confirmed what I already knew. My Dad was dead, and had been for at least a day.
The sheriffs tried to get me to sit down, but I was shaking so violently that if I stayed in a seated position I would shake myself through the crust of the Earth’s surface.
I managed to pace, even though my legs didn’t want to function.
My first instinct was to call Brother and let him know that I had failed and I couldn’t bring Dad to say goodbye because he was already gone. But I think I scream/sobbed that “He’s dead” instead of breaking the news gently. I can’t really be sure and I don’t want to ask Brother if he remembers what I said. I remember him sobbing and saying how sorry he was that I found Dad and that he wasn’t there with me. I remember saying “No no, it’s ok. I’m ok. You’re with Chatty, stay with her, I’ll call you back.”
I called my Uncle, still not calm, but I managed to convey the news without terrorizing him. They jumped in the car to come to the house.
Then I called my Mommy. And came unglued again. Terribly. My poor Mommy, so far away from me and freaking out because I’m shrieking and sobbing and screaming and obviously in a spectacular state. She stayed on the phone with me until the Crisis Team (whom the first responders had called because I was in RARE FORM for freak outs) and then my Uncle and Aunt came.
Then I called Boyfriend, who was out of town visiting family. By then I’d stopped screaming, but I was still sobbing pretty violently so I can’t imagine that was pleasant to experience.
When my head came back together, I knew. I wasn’t going to make it to say goodbye to Chatty; and knowing Brother he wouldn’t tell her that Dad was gone. So I called Brother back and told him to hold the phone up to her so I could say goodbye. And I did, I said “I love you, it’s ok to let go. Dad’s waiting for you. It’s ok now. Brother is going to be fine, I’m going to be fine. It’s ok now.”
According to Brother, she passed about 10 minutes later.
I firmly believe that she knew Dad had died a day or two before, so she’d started the process of her own release in order to cause an alert to the family. Knowing full well, that someone (most likely me) would go over to the house to pick Dad up to come and say goodbye but then discover his remains. It wasn’t until she knew that he had been found and that we all knew that she decided to join him. Frankly, it’s a beautiful representation of their co-dependency, teamwork and the level of devotion they had to one another.
Dad, naturally, having to micromanage everything, would have to be the first one to go in order to “organize everything” and Chatty came in with the save to complete the process. That’s how they worked in their office, that’s how they worked in their marriage. They were always always together.
It’s been a rough 48 hours; Brother and I are in constant contact. People are naturally curious as to “what happened” because it’s so odd that they would both pass so close in time but so far away in distance (about 20 miles or so, he in the home, she in the hospice) and because his death was so sudden and unexpected.
It’s hard for me not to give the details because, it turns out, I’m the only one in the family who actually saw him because I discovered his body. The sheriff’s wouldn’t allow my Uncle or Aunt in when they arrived. So yeah, I’m the only one with the picture in my head. I’ve described it on accident to others, but I don’t want to keep doing it. It forces me to live a terrifying moment. And while I know that in time it will fade, I’m not quite ready to deal with it 100% I don’t think.
Brother and I are in the planning phase; it’s going to be a rough time and because of the magnitude of everything, it’s going to be a long time before everything is settled. But we’re a team, we keep saying it to each other to make sure the other knows they aren’t the only one.