Sometimes you stumble your way through the dark on an unfamiliar path trying to  discern the next right step. In my experience, these paths are riddled with emotional land mines. You anticipate the boogeyman when he jumps out in front of you. When you hear the creepy music, you don’t have to turn your head to know someone is behind you. Then there’s the stuff that blindsides you and takes you to your knees, the unexpected hits you never saw coming. I’ve had a week of those.

The days are blurring together and feel oddly suspended as they do when things get awful. Some slow motion version of life settles in as you try to adjust to the new normal, which is anything but typical. On Wednesday, I went to visit my father in the hospital and they were talking about discharging him. Then on Thursday morning, he went into cardiac arrest and he’s been in a coma-like state ever since. The prognosis is grim and now we wait for things to change in some new direction. Waiting for milestone hours to pass; 24, 48, 72 and we continue to wait, and wait and the days feel like weeks and every so often the physical/mental/emotional exhaustion comes over you like a tidal wave. It feels a lot like drowning, minus the water. I’ve been dry drowning.

This situation is awful enough on it’s own and yet, there’s more. Five decades of an on again/off again father-daughter relationship, half siblings, a beloved twin who is far away, a history of family tragedies and what can I say, it’s complicated. I’m the oldest of seven, one of the two from the first disastrous marriage. The other siblings are from my father’s second marriage. His second wife died in a car accident in 2000. His youngest child died by suicide a handful of years ago. The pain this family has experienced is enormous and I feel like a ghoulish outsider with unfettered access.

As I’m getting older, friends and loved ones have lost parents. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like for me when the time came. I no longer resent my father for what he did or didn’t do when I was a child and yet, we aren’t especially close. Not a conscious effort to stay separate, it just became easier to chose other priorities. I’ve also tried to insulate my children from the dysfunction of my childhood. There is a lot of my personal history that they don’t know yet. As they are getting older more is coming to the surface but not everything.

I’m a strong person, been through plenty of my own shit and always came out the other side on top. I’ve beaten odds that no one could’ve predicted. If younger me was a horse in a race, no one in their right mind would have bet on me and yet I placed. I found my way into the winner’s circle, against all odds. I thought I would be somewhat disconnected when dealing with my father’s mortality, I was wrong.

Yesterday I felt hallowed, a husk of a human who had their innards scraped out. An emptiness that was dark and consuming, a black hole from within. It took me by surprise and I had to yield to it. I could not leap through this particular ring of fire, I had to stand in front of the flames and watch it burn. Eventually I had to accept help and let my husband and kids join me at the hospital.

In the middle of my pain, I imagined myself as a plate made of fine china with an intricate pattern. Seemingly intact, functional and somewhat pleasing to behold. Upon further inspection a hairline crack is discovered, the kind that can cause the plate to break if it is not handled in a delicate manner. If you feel the edges on the backside the chips reveal themselves and you know this plate has been compromised. It makes me wonder if the damage is visible to an outsider. From a distance, it looks good but up close, you can see it’s damaged and on the verge of being broken.



20 responses »

  1. Exactly, talking and letting out these trying times will help to keep the plate together, as she said, the glue. I lost my parents early on and I saw it all over again through my kids and grandkids eyes when my husband died. It takes a lot of time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so sorry to hear this… Glad you’re able to ask for help and support (even small steps are good!) as you move through this. So important to take care of yourself in whatever ways you are able – especially hard when used to being the caretaker of everyone else…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Such unbelievable writing about such an unbelievably sad tale. I’m so sorry to hear about your Dad, Bryce. I’ve read past pieces you’ve written about your relationship with him, and it sounds like “complicated” is an understatement. Sending you prayers and hugs. 🙏🏻

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This brought tears to my eyes, and a few sentences hit me harder than others. Thank you for sharing your thoughts/feelings/raw self. I am truly sorry for the loss of you father. I’m thinking about you my friend. xo


  5. Thank you for sharing your heart. I somewhat can relate to the ups and downs of it all. My heart hurts for those times. I had to come to reconcile with my dad when he went into cardiac arrest several years ago. Here i am now, 51 and have my own poor choices in life and have and do have my own conflicts with my own children. Sadly, at some point we have to rectify with our past so that we can move on with our future. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for visiting and commenting. I hope you can resolve those conflicts. My father passed away last month and it has been a whirlwind of emotions. I’m starting to feel like me again yet I know that this process will not be linear – it will ebb and flow like the ocean’s tide so I need to go with it when the big waves crash around me.


  6. Pingback: Don’t Stop Believin’ | Was that my out loud voice?

    • Thank you Shari. This weekend we will be spreading the ashes as he wished so the grief is being revisited. Lots of mixed emotions through this process mostly sadness and anger, working my way through this tangled mess.


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