As my husband and I have mentioned before, this blog is intended to track the journey, trials, tribulations, and even highlights of our trek through the world of infertility and ultimately adoption.
However, today is a day that that needs a little backtracking to put things into perspective for the two of us. Four years ago is the day my father passed away. He was sick for years with a disease that plagues my family, polycycstic kidney disease. It was July, 2012 and we got a call from my mom saying he was in the ICU at our city’s hospital which was, on a good day, eight hours away. Steffan and I got in the car were about two hours into the drive and she called back saying he was still sick and still in the ICU, but it wasn’t as bad as they thought; they were keeping him for observation. It was at that point we had a choice — keep driving the six hours or turn around since he seemed to be doing better. We kept driving. And thank God we did. That was the last time we saw my dad lucid. He got to see my engagement ring for the first time, even though Steffan asked him for my hand in marriage (knees shaking and all) at Christmas. He was elated. I think deep down he knew that someone would be there to take care of his daughter, his princess as he always called me. We would sit with him when we were allowed and sit in the waiting room when we couldn’t. We continued this pattern for several days then headed home as we were told so was he.
Phone calls between my mom and I continued as I checked on my dad over the next month; this may sound selfish, and I don’t mean it to be by any means, but every girl envisions her daddy walking her down the aisle at her wedding and his job was coming up in 11 months. Finally in mid-August, I remember sitting on the couch with Steffan, and my phone rang. I see “Mom” on the screen. Every fiber of my being knew this was “the” phone call; my dad went back into the hospital on July 24th (my parent’s 30th wedding anniversary) and he still wasn’t out. Only as I picked up the phone, it was my parents’ family doctor…that’s never good. I heard, “Trenae, you need to get home now. Your dad is being life-flighted to Allegheny General in Pittsburgh.” The rest was a blur because all I could hear was my mom hysterically crying in the background. Her friend was driving her down. I ran to my closet and packed the first clothes I could find. I just remember telling Steffan, “I’m going to need a black dress.” That was the worst feeling; to somehow know.” At that point all I could think was that this was a game of beat the clock and I was playing alone; Steffan had to work since we weren’t technically married yet, my dad wasn’t his family.
I did in fact beat the clock, but I had never seen him like that. He was in shock trauma ICU I was told he was the sickest man in the entire hospital. I remember talking to him, holding his hand, sleeping in hospital chairs and just so much not knowing. Every time a door opened, I didn’t know if it was a doctor coming out to tell my mom, my 16-year-old brother and me that it was over. Fortunately, (if that’s a word that can be used here) we got to make that call. We moved him up to hospice and I sat with him all night…literally. About 11 hours until he took his last breath. My mom had just walked out of the room and it was like he knew he could go. She said her good-byes and it was okay, and he was gone. The doctor who helped us make the decision about taking him off life support told us this, whether you are in the room when he goes, or you’re not, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life. I live with this daily.
I live with so many hurts and griefs daily. My dad missed my wedding. My mom walked me down the aisle. My something old and blue was one of his shirts cut into a heart and sewn into my wedding dress. I danced with my mom to the song he said we’d dance to since I was probably nine years old. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house.
As I live with the knowledge that I will never be a parent in the traditional sense, I stop at least once a day and think about my dad and what a great grandfather he would have been. He loved kids and was never afraid to be silly. When my cousin would come down to visit at holidays and bring her kids, I could always find him on the computer playing Barbie Dress Up with the biggest grin and the heartiest laugh. He pushed me to be my best self in every sense, whether it was school, athletics, family relationships, etc.. I’ve always been told that I am my father’s daughter, both good and bad. I like to think the good outweighs the bad because in my eyes, he was one awesome guy and he loved me dearly.
When I lived with my parents, before I moved to a new state, I did and still have a newfoundland dog named Frank. My dad was a prankster from the get, and seeing as Frank was/still is my furry child, dad thought it was hilarious to teach him to TURN ON THE TUB whenever he was thirsty…never off. Well that was nearly 10 years ago, and despite the fact that dad has passed on, Frank is still doing it, and guess who is still turning the tub off, me. So every time I’m in the kitchen and I hear that tub on and look up and think “damn you dad,” I do it with a smile, because I know he’s up there laughing at me and Steff arguing over who’s going to go turn it off.
I can only imagine how much he would have loved my kids…no matter where they came from. And I can certainly only imagine the kinds of pranks he would have taught them. After all, that would have been his promotion…and one he certainly deserved.
I know you can read this dad, and I hope you are proud of the path Steffan and I are on. I do my best daily to make you proud. Just remember — The tuna is good and I love you. 🙂