reaping the cost of solitude

Monday, April 07, 2014

Rewind: How His Father Died

I could hear the uncontrolled coughing from somewhere inside the house. I followed the loud cracks and my search abruptly ended in the bathroom. There he was- crouched with his head over the toilet, now coughing and vomiting huge amounts of blood, and he's cleaning it off with the frequent splash of water from his bucket. I stood there aghast, asking if he's okay like any surprised person would do, not knowing how to remedy the situation at that very moment. I am utterly overwhelmed with shock with each painful hack and crackle of blood from his throat, and the splatting sound on the floor. More vomiting. More blood. Only then did it dawn on me: I needed to get this man to a hospital.

He was still trying to clean the mess he's made when I tried to hoist him up. I could see what was running through his mind at that moment:

What would my wife think?
What if she finds there's blood all over the place?
I need to clean this up.
Damn cough.

I pulled his arm around my neck and told him not to bother with the mess-- told him to save what remained of his strength.   As we drudged towards the front door, I immediately felt his strength waning, like a baby finally feeling secured, nestled in the arms of a mother after an arduous task of crying for milk or warmth.  He was done crying. Somehow I provided the milk.

Once we got out of the house, he asked me to stop. He pulled himself down on the front porch and vomited blood some more. This time, he could barely sit up. I held him up when he told me, "I'm going to die from this." These words resonated in my head. Please, anything but those! My sense of urgency peaked, followed by a shot of numbing adrenaline, and I was able to carry him like I was carrying a watermelon. We headed to a neighbor's house and demanded we borrow his car. He offered to drive us seeing we were all bloodied up.

The ride was fast and noisy as we made our way through traffic. We were on the opposite lane mostly. Hazard lights on. Constant honking. The cars, speed, and noise were intoxicating as I occasionally checked on him, to see if he was still okay. He was breathing short breaths now. A few moments later, the car's horns stopped working- strangely. That was when I noticed he had lost consciousness.

It's going to be okay.
He's going to be okay.
I kept telling myself.

I was still carrying him when we arrived at the hospital. The emergency room. Nurses, doctors- who knows. I remember a nurse made the reach for his pulse and then said, "Nothing.  I think he's gone..."  Those words had never sounded so painful. She proceeded to ask me what happened and I explained everything; as if recalling each detail could somehow bring him back. I had absolutely no clue what else I could do. Waiting wasn't even an option. I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream. But my mind went blank. It shut itself down as it frantically tried to process what had happened.

The next thing I knew, I was in the morgue, sitting beside him. Crying. Talking to him. He looked as if he was just sleeping peacefully, and the illusion calmed me down a bit. I had to close his eyes with my fingers several times though, since his eyelids kept opening up. And as I did this, more tears came rolling down my face. I continued talking. Gibberish. I couldn't remember a word. I just kept on talking.... talking.... talking...... talking........

Death prevailed. It was bloody. It was short. It was impatient. It left me with nothing but a hollowed sense of helplessness before it, as it handed over my biggest loss.

~ October 2008

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