Half-Year

Six months and one day ago, I talked with my dad on the phone about where we would go on spring break. I was planning on taking Fei out west that weekend, so I wanted to make sure that our spring break destination was Chicago. (This way we wouldn’t re-drive much of I-80.) Chicago it tentatively was.

Six months ago, almost to the minute I am writing this, I called home while driving to pick up soup and bread for Fei and myself. Dad seemed tired, and put mom on the phone. We talked a bit.

Six months ago and a little later, Fei and I ate our soup (she loved it, I thought it was mediocre). We watched some tv, and ate some of the birthday cake she made for me.

Six months and a little later I got a phonecall. It was my mom. Dad had a heart-attack. Fei and I threw things in the car, we called my brother, and drove north.

It was dark by the time I got to Sioux Falls. I remember images from that drive, but of everything it is the part I recall least.

I remember the next few days. Because I I had taken a class that dealt with neuroscience the previous semester I was able to understand some of what the doctor’s told us. I learned about coma scales and degrees of unresponsiveness.

I learned that dad’s odds were reduced by one treatment he did have and one he did not. The treatment he did, Avandia, is known to increase the risk of massive heart attacks. The one he did not, induced hypothermia, appears to help recovery because the damage of cardiac-induced comas come after physical revival. But that’s new, and experimental, and the hospital just did not have it.

I remember crying in the waiting room (actually a family conference room which
our family occupied), at my dad’s bedside, and just whenever.

I remember listening to Sigur Ros in the dark.

There were two good signs, two good responses, that had made us hopeful. Shortly after the coma began, my dad responded to certain jokes told by my mother. He would smile and lift his head up. Later, after that had stopped, he would arm wrassle me.

The response to the jokes may have been him fading away. The arm wrassling was dad “waking up” to a persistent vegetative state.

Ten days after my dad’s heart attack, he went into PVS without having woken up. The same day he died of an infection.

Yesterday my mom mistakenly referred to February 10th as the day that dad died, but that’s what it feels like.

Today, one year ago, my grandpa was dying. Today, six months ago, my dad was about to.

Since February 10 I have split my time between Nebraska and South Dakota. At first my dad needed me. Now my mom and sister do.

I miss my friends. I have not been able to give them the time they deserve. I have not been able to present them with the kind of happiness they should have.

I miss my dad most of all.

Since my dad’s heart attack both Fei and myself have missed dying by inches. Her car was sucked under an 18 wheeler. I was nearly hit by a bus.

I dreamed of going to Chicago without him.

I love you dad.