Explaining Death to Three Year Olds.

When I called my wife around 1:30 on Tuesday she knew something was wrong. She knew I was supposed to get my first allergy shot at 1:15 and that I generally don’t call unless something is wrong.

After about sixty seconds from the time of the allergy shots- there were three- my throat started to close. It’s an odd feeling, not totally like my throat was closing, more like it gets tight and so itchy that I want to stick a coat hanger down it.

The nurse was pretty calm, though she later told me I gave her some gray hairs, as she told me I was having an anaphylactic reaction and they needed to give me epinephrine. The allergist came in, he’s also one of my favorite doctor’s, and also calmly explained what was happening as I was injected with epinephrine. My throat opened up, and then they gave me benardryl and told me to call some one.

I had to get a second shot of epinephrine about thirty minutes later because the whole throat closing thing started again. In the middle of it I was surprised and at first, not anxious. But then as I realized what happened and remembered all of the cases of anaphylaxis in the emergency department I took care of, I started picturing the worst.

Three days earlier I threw out my back. So I was also uncomfortable.

The next day I went to work. My arms hurt from the shots, and I had started wheezing the previous night leading us to wake up at 2 AM to make sure I didn’t miss a Benadryl dose and albuterol. Then I went to work. Being my own boss, knowing I’m taking three days off next week, I don’t get PTO. I saw patients with a sore back and sore arms, wheezing, and hoping the anaphylaxis was going away.

That was last night. I stayed at the office until after seven, catching up on paperwork and billing after seeing thirteen clients.

I came home but eight, to my wife saying the boys wanted to say goodnight. I dragged myself upstairs, and fell into bed with my Jackson. He told me all about his day. Declan chiming in at times from his bed. Then Declan asked about going away on Sunday. “We goin to Hampshire?” “Yes baby, we are going to New Hampshire,” “With Gramma?” “yes baby with Gramma,” “Mama!” “What baby?” “We forgot Poppy!”

I was half asleep, feeling like I got hit by a truck, and my son chooses to bring up my Dad. He died in April. We went to New Hampshire together as a family every year. This will be the first time for us up there without him.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Poppy going to come down from the sky to Hampshire?”

At this point I had tears in my eyes, “No baby, he’s not,”

“Aww, Mama, then he won’t give me a hug and a kiss. I wanna hug Poppy,” he said “I want him to meet Hediz and give him a hug too,” (a friend at daycare).

Now I’m openly crying, and I choke out, “I miss his hugs too baby. I wish I could hug him too. But it doesn’t work that way. He’s never coming back from the sky, he’s an angel up there now baby.” He looked disappointed but accepted this. Jackson sat up and gave me a hug. Then I kissed them both goodnight and walked out of their room.

I walked downstairs sobbing and tried to explain to my wife what just happened.

The thing about parenting is that I am never prepared for those moments. I had a shitty week. It was only Wednesday! I was ready to fall into my bed and sleep. Instead I was caught off guard by a random thought from my son about my Dad. They go weeks without mentioning Poppy. Then the night that I am feeling physically and emotionally beat is the night I have to further explain that he is actually permanently gone. It’s the night I have to think about his hugs, and how much I miss them.

It’s been six months since he died. I dread each day because I think about him every day. But I look forward to each day because it’s one more day we make it through since he died. I keep waiting for the day it gets easier. So far it’s not here yet.

Within a twenty four hour period I was recovering with my back, I had an anaphylaxis reaction so bad I required two epi-pen’s, I saw thirteen clients at my practice and saw six patient’s inpatient at the hospital, I fought with Anthem, shocker, and I explained death to my three year old twins. Again.

The whole adulting thing is overrated.

Parenting makes me appreciate and admire all parents. We all have these moments. These five second moments that make up our day that bend us, touch us, torture us, because our kids are innocently enquiring about something that can be incredibly triggering for us.

I don’t get days off or time outs as much as I crave them.

Tonight we made cookies and doughnuts (I bake them) and butternut squash Chile. I did three loads of laundry, and I tried not to think about the packing I haven’t done for New Hampshire yet. But we didn’t talk about my dead Dad and they fell asleep without screaming. I’ve had about an hour to watch The Office, write a blog post, and fold all three loads of laundry.

At some point this week will be over. I likely won’t remember that my back was thrown out or the emotional toll of my clients this week.

But I will remember my son asking me if Poppy can come down from the sky to hug and kiss him. Because it’s something I wish with all my being could be a reality.

 

Life Without My Dad.

No one prepares you for the morning you wake up and are slammed in the face with the fact that today is your dad’s funeral. A part of me wanted to get it over with and another part of me wanted to run far far away. But I did it. I wore a black dress and cried a lot and hugged a lot of people I didn’t want to touch. But I did it.

I’ve been going to hot yoga at least 4 times a week, usually I go only 2-3 but I realized that I needed that hour to zone out. Because what’s been also difficult is dealing with my kids. Twin three year olds actually don’t care that my Dad died. They still want my attention, my love, and energy. Lots and lots of my energy.

Hot yoga gives me space away from them, away from my phone, and the world. Where I can just feel my feelings and if there are tears that mix with the sweat no one notices and if they do they don’t care. I’ve been doing hot yoga for roughly fourteen months, and until three weeks ago when my dad passed I didn’t realize how incredible it has been for my mental health.

Before now it was a workout but the last three weeks it’s been this sort of emotional cleansing. I only told two of the instructors that my Dad died. I went to a class the day after he died and I told that instructor later in the week when I saw her again. I didn’t want them to treat me any differently or feel awkward if they didn’t know what to say.

I credit hot yoga with my ability to function and move forward step by step over the last few weeks.

I realized at one point that I don’t have pictures of my Dad around. I mean there were a couple, but mostly it’s pictures of the boys in our house. I went to Rite Aid to print a couple 8×10’s- one of him in his military dress uniform and one of our entire family. It was a disaster. First it stopped uploading with a usb cable, so I uploaded a second time, then in the middle of printing the printer stopped working and the staff had to replace the cartridge and paper, then it erased my order again…

I mean literally anything that could go wrong went wrong. Including my twin three year olds screaming and running around the store.

Yes we were that horrible family who everyone is wishing would leave. When the worker came over for maybe the fifth time(?!) my eyes welled up and I said, “Listen I’m just trying to print literally two pictures of my Dad who died two weeks ago. Could you just get it to work this time?”

She gave me two coupons so I paid one dollar for both pictures, and apologized profusely and said, “We’ve all been there honey,”.

It’s true. When I talk to some one who has lost a parent it’s very different from when I talk to some one who hasn’t. There’s an understanding among those of us in this horrible little club of kids who’ve lost their parents that it’s just awful and nothing can ever really prepare you for it.

Even when the dementia was setting in, he was still there, I still had a Dad. Now I’m Dad-less.

The pictures printed eventually and I framed them and hung them in my house. When I walked by one tonight carrying Jackson to bed, I said “Look baby, say good-night to our family, good night to Poppy and Grandma,” and then named off my sister and her wife and our niece. Everyone in the picture. He looked at me, and looked at the picture and then kissed my cheek and my eyes welled with tears as I walked him up the stairs.

It feels comforting to me to say goodnight to my dad still.

My yoga instructors often talk about transformation and how going into a pose you will not come out the person you were going in. Embracing the pain and sitting with the uncomfortable will teach you how to tolerate distress.

I certainly am not the same person I was three weeks ago. I am transformed. I feel like I’ve gone deep into the pose and am trying to work my way out of it. Some day I will.

When I see the picture of my Dad in his dress uniform I remember all the times I hugged him and laid my head against his chest and felt those buttons push into my head. I remember the scent of him.

I loved hugging my dad as a kid. It was safe and warm and there were many times I hugged him in uniform. The fatigues had a different smell and feel than the dress. I see him dressed for the military and all I think of are the hugs.