This is the hardest and strangest post I’ve ever written.
I need to start with my anxiety and vomit phobia, because I’ve written about that recently. I’ve seen my therapist three or four times and there’s been a lot of getting-to-know-you conversation, which is what I expected, although I had been hoping for some useful tools or methods for dealing with it.
Then on Tuesday something upsetting occurred, which resulted in me having to quickly and forcefully reestablish a boundary I was hoping not to need. I am not going to write about that, however. Suffice it to say that it was painful and scary, but at the same time I am proud of myself for how I handled it, without any drama, finger-pointing, or anger. It was a HUGE step for me and as painful as it was, I felt like something had shifted, like a weight had been lifted.
On Thursday morning (New Year’s Eve Eve) I called my Dad and had a wonderful talk with him. I am not sure if I have shared this here, but my Dad also struggled with anxiety and panic attacks. And he had the same specific phobia. We often joked about it and traded stories that would make other people cringe, but he got it. He got me. He also felt guilty because he thought it was his fault, that he’d “given” it to me.
That evening I was feeling peaceful and energetic and ready for the new year. I decided to clean out and rearrange my office. I was in bed by 10 p.m.
At midnight I awoke feeling strange. I was very hot and felt very bad. I got up to go to the bathroom and the next thing I knew, I could hear my husband’s voice calling my name and I could feel his hands on me but he seemed to be very far away. I had passed out cold and was flat on my face on the bathroom floor! As I came to, I had an overwhelming urge to evacuate my bowels, which I did a couple of times (thankfully on the toilet). Then came the cold sweat.
I knew what was coming but I felt strangely at peace. My husband brought me a blanket and a pillow and I waited on the bathroom floor. A little while later…maybe an hour? The phone rang. Tim answered it and I could tell something was wrong. Someone was in the hospital. My Dad had a massive heart attack. We were told it would be a matter of hours before he died.
I laid there, sick on the floor. I heard what Tim said and I fully grasped the situation, but I didn’t feel anything other than calm. A little while later I sat up and vomited into the toilet several times. It wasn’t that bad. I almost laughed when I was done. Tim was standing at the door and I said, “It’s okay. I’m okay. What a tribute to my Dad, eh?”
After a while I called my father’s wife. She said he was still hanging in there but that there was no hope. I tried to comfort her as best I could. I had started to feel better, physically, but the impact of what she said was finally sinking in. I hung up and went back to bed and cried. I stayed awake, waiting for the call.
At one point I called his wife and asked her to hold the phone up to his ear so I could say goodbye. I told him how much I loved him and that I would miss him so much. I told him it was okay to go and I thanked him for making it okay. Because there really isn’t any other way to describe what happened and how it felt. As my father lay dying, he reached out through time and space to make it okay for me to vomit.
Dad finally died late in the afternoon on New Year’s Eve.
“Everything works out the way it is supposed to.” ~ Christopher Roberts Coxe 3/31/35 – 12/31/10
It does indeed, Dad and I love you!!