At the age of 24 I never thought I would have to go through what I did. On November 19, 1999, I recieved a page with my home phone number. I quickly returned the call. My mother (who should have been at work) answered the phone. She said they were taking my dad to the hospital. My mind began to whirl! I raced to the hospital.
Soon after I arrived, the doctors told us that my dad had suffered a stroke and a brain anurysm. Countless tests were run. They confirmed there was no brain activity and my dad could live, but only in a vegetative state. Hearing that was the worst thing that I could ever imagine having to hear. My dad would never want to live that way.
Within 24 hours we had to make a decision. My mom, brother and I decided that the best thing for all involved was to take him off of life support. At this point, I could not even imagine how much our lives where about to change.
My dad and I were never really close until the last few years of his life. His father died in November 1998, 53 weeks to the day before he did. During dad's last year we spent a lot of time together working on my grandparents' house, running errands or just watching TV. I now look back and am grateful for those times we spent together. Although knowing we had that special time gives me comfort, it could not prepare me for his loss.
In the 16 months since my dad died, I have felt every emotion possible: anger, love, hate, confusion, lonliness, depression, and even happiness. I've gone through periods when all I wanted to do was sleep, or not sleep at all, eat, or not eat at all. My life has been turned upside down. Sure, I have days and even weeks when things seem fine, but the pain still lingers. It's not that I expected the pain to ever to go away, I was just looking for a way to cope with it.
Finally, last month I decided that I should see a counselor, just someone to talk to, a professional. I'm so glad I did! She has helped me realize that I am not alone and has helped to ease the burden that I was feeling. I know that I will always miss my dad -- he was a big part of my life -- but with the help of friends and family the pain is not so raw.
JDJ is a member of the Beyond Indigo community.