July 4th, 2010, my dad started having seizures. He was eventually diagnosed with epilepsy and put on many medications. The doctor was hesitant to take his license for a long time. Unfortunately that also meant she wasn't willing to help him get disability. Over the years, the lack of work, the medication, the depression, and everything else became too much for him. One day in October, he was driving to do a job, blacked out, and crashed his truck. Thankfully he survived with nothing more than a scratch on the leg. Or so it seemed. I believe that crash did more than we realized. In November, I moved myself and my 2 boys to the town he lives in so we could be near him. It was also in November that he told me that he was having trouble remembering things. Simple things. Things he had known for years. He needed a map to get around the small town he had lived and worked in for years. He was a self-employed plumber, so he knew the streets of this town backward and forward. Suddenly he needed a map to get around. He was also diagnosed with early-onset dementia, because of the head injuries and epilepsy. He wasn't able to drive anymore. He had to have people drive him to jobs. That was a massive blow to a man who was always self-sufficient and able to provide for his family. Suddenly he couldn't. And on top of that, the government said he couldn't get any help from them. He didn't want to be a burden to anyone, and the depression took hold.
On Monday, Dec. 16th, he and my mom went to the doctor for a routine MRI. He needed to be sedated for the MRI, but the technicians were not informed of this. So they had to reschedule.
When they got home that afternoon, my dad decided to go for a walk. My mom had no idea that he had taken the gun from the nightstand. He was gone for hours, which wasn't unusual for him. He often took long walks by the river to think. The river was one of his favorite places.
I knew that my dad had the MRI that day, so that night I texted my mom to find out how things went. She said she would talk to me about it tomorrow. So I figured that my dad had 'chickened out' and decided not to do it. If only it were that simple.
December 17, 2013 started out as any normal day. My son woke me up about 7. We got up, made coffee, and started our day. It was a cheerful day. It was my nephew's 15th birthday and I sang Happy Birthday to him(though he couldn't hear since he lives 3000 miles away). Little did we know that it would soon end.
I waited that morning for my mom to call me and tell me how the MRI went. I never got the call. Instead I got a knock on the door. She opened the door and said "hi, I have people with me." Those people were Pastor H and his wife. They walked in and smiled and said hi and asked mom how the MRI went. She woke up my 12 year old and told us to sit on the couch. I could tell she had been crying and that something was seriously wrong. My first thought went to my 83 year old grandpa who also lived with them. I'll never forget my mom saying "honey, your dad shot himself." I screamed "NO" and asked her if she was joking. Of course she wasn't. She would never joke about something like that. I immediateley buried my head in her lap and cried. I didn't get to say good-bye. I didn't get to give him one last hug and tell him that I loved him. I didn't get to thank him for being such a wonderful daddy to me, and an amazing grandpa to my kids. My just-turned 4 year old buried his head in the couch and kept saying "this is a horrible day. This is a very, very bad day!". My then-11.5 year old cried and snuggled up next to my mom. I remember the 4 us snuggling on the couch together, crying and saying "it's not fair! It's not fair!!!!". 6 months later and we're still saying that. It's not fair. And it sucks.
After a while, Pastor H and his wife left. My 11 yr old sat on the couch, not sure what to do. I went and set up my 4 year old with a project. I informed people on Facebook. My mom made phone calls. Those are some horrible phone calls to make. How do you call people and tell them someone they love has just shot themselves? The Sheriff in town, whom we know, called the local Suicide Prevention group and they came up to talk to us. They gave us some information and made sure we were okay. They made sure to tell us that there was nothing we could have done. Quite honestly, it did little to reassure us that day. We were all so numb. We finally had to go up to my parents house because family members were arriving to be with us. Walking into that house and seeing my dads empty recliner was horrible. I remember curling up in and smelling it because it smelled like him. I wanted to yell at everyone not to sit in it.
That day was a very, very long day. The weather was beautiful, which at one point prompted one of my aunts to say "it's a nice day." To which my 4 year old again replied "NO, it's not! It's a bad day! A very, very, very bad day!!". Out of the mouth of babes, right? It was, indeed, a very, very, very bad day. We spent the day talking to people, but I have no idea who. Family members came over and gave us hugs and condolences. I'm not completely sure who. It's kind of a blur. The rest of the week was spent trying not to lose our minds, planning my dads memorial service, and visiting with family. My sister, brother-in-law and their 3 kids flew into town a few days later. We cried together and made a wonderful memorial video for our dad. He was 3 months shy of 63 years old when he died.
The last 6 months have been a blur of grief and moving and craziness. I can't believe it's been 6 months. I can't believe my daddy is gone. He was my daddy. My fishing partner. The man who taught me about plumbing and how to cast a fishing pole. He was the man who smiled so proudly each time he held his grandchildren for the first time. Or any time, really. He was the man who everyone in town loved and admired. He was the man that you could look up to to be a good role model.
I know my daddy would never, ever, ever purposely hurt us if he had been in his right mind. Never, in a million years, would he do anything to hurt us. That is how I know that the illness he had completely taken over and he just didn't want to hurt anymore. He was in pain all the time, physically and mentally. He wanted to be done with it. He wanted to go home. He wanted healing. And dying was the only way to get it. I know that my dad is in heaven, and he is partying with Jesus, and his mom, and his dad, and his step-dad, and his grand babies that didn't make it to earth, and with his brother, and with my grandpa, who joined him in heaven just 6 short weeks later.
But that doesn't make us miss him any less. I miss him constantly. I want to give him a hug. I want to feel his arms around me as he kisses my head and says "love you, Punkin'." I want to see him playing with his grandsons. I just want HIM.
I don't know how to end this, so I'm just going to leave you with this video that we made for his memorial service: