Keeper of The Fruit Loops

The Call

September 30, 2014

The Call comes when you are wearing a smart denim dress and totes adorbs leopard shoes, while you are sipping the pumpkin coffee you grabbed on the way to work.

Your father had a bad night.

We are taking him to the hospital now.

I’ll keep you posted.

The Call comes when your Hubby is in the air, on the way to a business trip in another state.  Of course it does.

The Call comes when your children are safely deposited in their classrooms, happily learning, blissfully unaware of their mother’s anguish, of their grandmother’s impending heartache.  Thankfully.

After The Call, you stare into space, thoughts, feelings, emotions swirling:  Do I go home? Do I struggle through the day? Where is my coffee? I’m sorry, what did you say again? How quickly can I get a flight home?

What do you do next?

You wait.

You stress.

You hold your phone near you, on you, on the loudest volume setting so you won’t miss the ring, the next call.

You curse yourself for not living closer.

You wonder why your coffee suddenly got cold and why your hands are freezing.

They are going to intubate him to let him rest.

It could be weeks until he’s better.

I’ll keep you posted.

You manage to get through your work day, barely remembering the decisions, the actions or the movements you’ve made during your shift.  And your hands are still cold.

You wander to the bus stop, to get the children, still not knowing what to say, how to feel or when it’s okay to collapse onto the macadam and cry.

You look in your friend’s eyes and see the immediate realization that she knows that you’ve gotten The Call.  And she holds you when you finally do collapse.

You wonder if you’ll ever feel warm again.

The ICU nurse is here, do you want to talk to her?

We are doing everything we can.

I’ll keep you posted.

You are too afraid to be alone but too upset to have people around.  You lash out.  You can’t think.  You worry about what the kids will eat for dinner.  You wonder if you should be checking the mail or doing laundry to keep busy.

And you continue to wait.

You talk to the bedside nurse.  You hear words you recognize from when you were the nurse on the other end of the call.  Medications that were saved for patients already at death’s door are being used.  You hear “life support”.  And “organ donor”.

You hear “Is this what he’d want?”.

And you cry.  And wait for another call saying it’s all a bad dream.

I’m with him and he’s finally comfortable.  He’s the most relaxed I’ve seen him in months.

He’s not in pain.

Just pray.  

I’ll keep you posted.

And then comes The Last Call.

The one where they put the phone up to his ear so you can whisper “Let go” and “It’s okay, I’ll be okay, Daddy” and resist the urge to beg him not to leave you.

You listen, straining to hear what the doctor is saying, what your mother is hearing.

You bend over at your waist, willing yourself not to let the sound of vomiting be the last thing your father hears as he leaves the world.

He’s gone.

It’s over.

And you sit there in that smart denim dress and leopard shoes, holding the phone to your heart, thinking of all the things you forgot to say.

Have you said what you need to say to the ones you love the most?

Pick up the phone and make a call.

Before The Call.



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36 Responses

  1. My heart is breaking for you, even though it has been two years. These are amazing words and I know that they must have carved a path up your body and down to your hands as you typed them in, they carve a path into our minds as we read them, and yet they somehow still manage to give all of us some comfort to know that when that call comes, like you, we will find the strength to somehow get through.
    eHugs to you my friend.

  2. No truer words have I read in a while. I am a nurse and have been on both ends of “the call”. I’m sorry for your loss.

  3. This post stopped me in my tracks. I’m so, so sorry for your loss.

    When The Call came for me it was too late to say anything. He was already gone. I was left remembering the call I’d made to him that morning, just as he was going out and said he’d get back with me later. Did I tell him I loved him? I honestly don’t remember. I hope I did.

    Sending my prayers your way.

  4. Wow. Where do I begin. I’m so sorry for your loss. My throat is choked up after reading this. I hope you have a good support system.
    This post touches me greatly because it hits close to home. About a couple years ago, my Dad had a second heart attack. It was prompted when he had problems clotting after another surgery. Anyway, he survived. But, he was unconscious for three weeks. We were all very scared to lose him. It was too close. So, I know what you mean about not leaving words unsaid. Sometimes, though, I struggle. When life gets back to normal, it is hard to share those real, meaningful moments that touch the core. In fact, sometimes loved ones don’t want to experience such conversations. It brings us all to such a vulnerable emotional place. Anyway, thank you so much for sharing. <3

    1. You bring up such a valid point, Mandi… So very true that we often wait until the crisis happens to say the words we carry in our hearts everyday. And so sad that when the crisis passes, sometimes we lose our courage. Here’s to telling our loved ones everyday!!

  5. I lost my mom 30 years ago, and I can still remember that day so clearly. This essay is painfully accurate, yet beautifully written. It’s so strange the way that we continue to try to function in the midst of grief. It’s good to be reminded that we have an opportunity to let people know how we feel before we have to experience that grief. Wonderful post.

  6. Feeling your heart ache. I I found my mother deceased in her bed when I was 23, she was only 42. This was 12 years ago. The regrets flow in my mind daily. Still. My best friend found out her father had taken his own life yesterday. Life is a cycle and we are never guaranteed “forever”. Live in the loving and fond memories of life with him. Ive found this helps on those “bad days” which still come even after 12 years. Much love and peaceful energy sent to you all the way from Michigan.

  7. My heart goes out to you, as I can relate all too well. Every time the phone rings your heart just skips a beat, not knowing just what that call could entail. The fact you can still write so eloquently years later despite the pain you’re working through is a testament to your talent and also your love. XO

  8. Reading this today brought fresh tears. It’s only been two months since I lost my dad.
    Everything and nothing sets off the waterworks.
    Be thankful you had a moment to say goodbye – I found out when I got home from a business trip that my dad passed the day before. The last time I saw him was the LAST time I would ever see him.
    You’re right… death sucks.

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  9. Wow. I am so glad you wrote this post. It was very moving. And beautifully written (as always). We just never know when that call is coming. We need to live EVERY day like it is the last. <3 xoxo

  10. I am sincerely sorry for your loss. I too received the call after of 9 yrs of taking care of my mother who was taken too soon by Alzheimer’s 2 yrs ago. My first call came when she could not remember how to drive to our house. Thus I had 9 yrs to do everything I felt would return the love and comfort she gave me. I thought I was never going to survive and when the second call came I was not relieved only happy for her finally being chosen to be at peace. I was lucky to have known a timeline. I still am working on my sense of loss. I thank you for sharing this. It was truly poignant.

  11. Reading your post brought me right back to the time I lost my Dad. It was 27 years ago, yet I still remember every detail, and I still remember the pain and loss. Time does help, as you have probably learned, but there is a special pain a daughter goes through when she loses her father. Your post is a good reminder to tell the ones you love how important they are, while you still can. Couldn’t have been easy to write, but I’m glad that you did. Thanks.

  12. I am so so sorry for your loss. We had a scare recently with my father-in-law who lives far away, and I envision we may also – sooner than we want – receive the call. Best to you and your family. A beautiful post.

  13. I spoke to my dad the night before…He always told me to call, but I never did. I would speak to my mom but dad was never one for chit-chat. We talked for almost an hour before I said I should get off the phone because I had to wake up for work early the next morning. I hadn’t relieved he was that sick, he had a hard time talking. He had found out he had stage 4 colon cancer the year before. I wished I had lived closer, but as soon as we found out I went to visit before his surgery to remove it. They couldn’t get it all and it had spread to his liver. I was supposed to go see him that next month. My mom called just before the alarm went off that next morning and said he wasn’t breathing and the EMS were on the way…If I had know that last call before “the call” I would have never gotten off the phone. I am thankful I got to tell him I loved him and sorry for being such a pain in the a$$…This year is the 3rd father’s day without him. It still hurts…I found out a month after being home from his funeral that I was pregnant…My son would have been his first grandson…I wish he could have known his grandfather 🙁

  14. I am so sorry for your loss. I got a call on Christmas day that dad was being rushed to surgery at 10:30 at night because his bowels ruptured. I flew home the next morning, the first flight I could get. By the time I made it to Dad, he was in ICU and in an induced coma. We almost lost him. There were 2-3 days that I thought were going to be his last. But, by the grace of all that is holy, he finally came out of it 2.5 weeks later and then we struggled to get him off the vent. I stayed to take care of him, cleaned his house, did his food shopping and finally came home yesterday. He’s doing 1000 times better but still has a long road to go. Your post made my heart break for you. Much love, prayers and hugs.

  15. I got the call two years ago today. How is it that someone I’ve never met can feel the same things I felt and am feeling as I type this through tears.

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