There’s a new show premiering this spring and I see the preview everywhere I go. The show is called Awake and it’s about a gentleman who suffers a tragic accident. When he wakes up his wife is alive and his son is dead; when he puts his head down to sleep he wakes up again and son is alive and his wife is dead. I REFUSE to watch this show or any part of it. I lived that for almost two weeks.
My dad had a nasty fight with aggressive lung cancer. He kept working until the weekend he passed away, and my mom and I did everything possible in supporting him to make sure that could happen. We made sure he lived the life he wanted to the very last. My dad died on his own terms, at home, surrounded by his family. The last thing he told me was that he loved me, and he was proud of me, and couldn’t imagine being anything but.
My dad’s passing was extremely traumatic. Due to a blockage, he dehydrated, and essentially drowned in his own fluids as his lungs filled and failed. I held his hand most of the day; it was hard to leave even for a second to go to the bathroom because I wanted every moment I had left. His eyes failed and I told him everything that was going on around him. When his hearing failed, I held his hand, squeezed it, made sure he knew we were there, and just kept talking. To see the fear in his eyes, followed by the peaceful look he had knowing we were there brings me an unexplainable mixture of comfort and pain even as I write.
As the night fell I asked my mom to bring the sleeping bag out. I unrolled it next to his hospital bed, climbed in, held his hand and just listened. I don’t know if he heard me, but I told him I was there, I wasn’t going anywhere, and after a thought I told him. “I love you, we’ll be okay. You can sleep now.” I listened as his breathing settled, and finally stopped. I called out and my mom came in the living room. It’s hard to tell someone that they were planning for a day that wasn’t relevant anymore. “He’s gone.” We went through the motions, getting him dressed, calling the ambulance to come get him, and after a couple hours I just blacked out. That was the beginning of hell. When I “woke up” life was normal, we were talking about the next round of chemotherapy and my dad was giving me advice on my upcoming finals.
When my head hit the pillow I would “wake up” again into a cluster. My mom was having a hard time managing so I had to write my Dad’s obituary. It was finals week so I had to make arrangements with my teachers to get notes I missed. For at least one solid week, I didn’t know when I was asleep or when I was awake. Maybe it was a blessing. Maybe not knowing what reality was gave me the numbness to get through finals with the composure and grades my father would have wanted for me. Regardless, it was the most off-balance and painful time in my life that I can recall, and I’ve seen some pretty dark days. My life is a series of choices.
There are the choices I made that shaped me, and the one’s that I continue to make. It may have caused me pain, but I would not trade one second of those last hours with my father. I also will not put myself in a position to relive the aftermath. Some people may argue that “entertainment” like that show could be cathartic. I’ll counter it’s a giant salt lick rubbed in a perpetually open wound.
What you take in is equally as important as what you put out; in fact, they are directly linked. If you don’t take in positive entertainment, or build relationships with positive people, you will have nothing to refuel your psyche, and nothing positive to offer the world. And remember, just because it’s on TV, doesn’t mean it’s entertainment.