It’s been a little over 2 weeks since my dad passed away. I still expect to see his name pop up on my caller ID as it did almost every day or to check voicemail and have 2 or 3 from him. Instead the phone is relatively silent with only a telemarketer here and there and the occasional call from Taylor. My voice mail is now empty with no new “words of fatherly advice”.
Dealing with my dad’s death has been vastly different than dealing with my mom’s death. She had early onset Alzheimer’s and we had been slowly losing her for a long time. At the end she did not recognize any of us and so while I grieved I also knew mom’s suffering had ended. Dad had made it through gallbladder surgery and was doing well. He had just been discharged and I had just gotten him settled in at the rehab facility that we thought he would be at for maybe a week. He had been talking to me about the list of things he needed to do and for me to bring my computer so I could get him hooked up to his email the next day. As the boys and I were saying “seeing you tomorrow”, he had a seizure like incident. The ER doctor said it most likely was a blood clot and just like that he was gone. It was so sudden and so unexpected and I was just numb and in shock. I still am and it seems like I can’t stop the tears.
At the rehab facility as I sat in the hallway waiting as they attempted CPR and called in the paramedics, I could hardly think. The boys had been shooed into the internet café room and I am sure were very confused. The head nurse came to me and asked if I wanted them to continue CPR. I said yes because just a few seconds earlier he had been just fine. They told me it didn’t look good and that I might have to make some decisions when we got to the hospital. My dad and mom had made me promise to “pull the plug” when the time came. There hadn’t been a plug to pull for mom and I wasn’t sure if I could make that decision for my dad. I am so thankful for the kindness of strangers that day. One man stopped and asked if he could pray with me and put his hand on my shoulder and started to pray. Another lady stopped in and checked on the boys a couple of times and then would come and just stand by me. Several times, by various people I was asked if there was someone they could call to come or that could come drive me to the hospital. All I could answer is “There is no one. There is only me. I am alone.”
I know I am not truly alone, but at times it does seem so right now. I am really an introvert. There have been several articles circulating FB recently that are spot on about those of us who are introverts. I need alone time to recharge as social situations drain me. I don’t like small talk but will talk for hours about topics I am passionate about. I don’t like to talk to people I don’t know (in person or on the phone.) I don’t particularly care to be in large groups and do much better in one on one or small group interactions. I am an observer and a listener. I often run through dialogue in my head first and think things through before I speak. Most of my life I have had to step out of my comfort zone in order to participate in social interactions. I prefer to have a small core group of friends and am very loyal to those I let into my circle. Unfortunately I have also tightened up that circle as I have had a few people I thought were good friends turn into something else and my walls went back up. Since I retired I have had very little adult conversations as I no longer go to work. I am not good at reaching out to others to initiate or keep in contact. I prefer to be a helper and do not ask for help myself. I am no longer sure where I fit in society. Most of the people I knew before adoption are now retired with grown children or still working with grown children. I am a retired single mom with one grown child and 2 elementary aged sons with special needs. All of this leads to feeling alone. I am surrounded by support and friends on FB, but when it comes to “Who can we call to help you?” or now that dreaded line for a local emergency contact person on the school paperwork, I feel alone. Now with my dad gone, that line is blank. There are 4 lines on the afterschool program registration form. If I can’t fill on the one emergency contact for the school form, there is no way I can fill out the 4 for the afterschool program registration. So the lines are blank and the boys aren’t registered for the afterschool program and thus no back up plan is in place if I am ever running late or something happens.
I know I need to rebuild my village locally. I have great people in Cincinnati who will make sure that my kids are taken care of if something were to happen to me, but what happens in the interim, until they can get here? Or what if I am delayed and can’t meet the boy’s bus one day? What if I need outpatient surgery? What if….. I know I need to step out of my comfort zone again and start to build a local support system for my boys. I just don’t know where to start. I don’t like to ask for help as I don’t want to put people out or make anyone feel obligated to say yes. Probably another reason is I am also afraid that no one will want to be a part of my village. If you build it they will come…..but what if they don’t?
I have to mention that I am so lucky to have a friend like Jamie who knew I would not ask for help, who dropped everything and would not take "No" for an answer and came and stayed with me for those first few days after my dad passed away. She cleaned, cooked and just sat with me. I am also still in awe that another adoptive mom that I only know through FB also dropped everything and headed my way only to be stopped by mechanical issues. Priscilla did that even though she was traveling to pick up her son this past weekend in Bulgaria.
I did take a step forward locally and have reached out to a fellow DMD mom. Gretchen and I enjoyed a great lunch and good conversation. So maybe one line is filled, but the others are still blank.
I am hoping that maybe once I can get through these next few weeks of dealing with all that comes along with a parent’s death, I can figure out how to start rebuilding my village locally. I need people to spend time with as do my boys and those blank lines need to be filled. So I will try to build it. Will you come?