My father died in the middle of the night. My mother called me at around 2:30 a.m. crying because she had just received the call from the nursing home. Often lately I would think of my father at night before falling asleep and worry about him being alone in the night at the nursing home. It was agonizing at times thinking he may be trying to get out of bed or needing comfort but being alone and even scared. I had also thought about the call and how it could come in the night.
I talked my mother through her initial regrets of not visiting him that day. He had fallen on Sunday and had been hurt and this week had not been going well. Tuesday's visit he was not feeling well at all but very difficult to tell with Alzheimer's what is actually going on because he could not communicate much anymore. It hurts to think of it. But I had a feeling of peace come over me that he wouldn't have to wake alone in the night or struggle with staff or suffer anymore.
My daughter and I drove down in the hours before dawn. A beautiful spring day. I took my mother to the mortuary. She wanted to see my father one last time. His wishes were clear about cremation. We made initial plans and then I went with her into the room. It was so hard for me to see him lying there, eyes open, bruised on the side of his head. To me he looked frightened but I did not say that to my mother. I hate that I saw him that way. I hate that he died that way. I think he awoke in the night. He was alone. I hate he was alone. I cannot tell my mother this.
We stayed at my mother and father's house through the day. It is the house he built himself. All his things are there. When it was time to get ready to take my Mom home with us I began to panic. I did not want to leave his things. I did not want to leave. That would mean he was really gone. I went in his closet. I went through his clothes and touched them and looked at things I remember seeing him wear. I took to sobbing for a few minutes and pulled myself together. I found his suits. It had been quite some time since they had been worn. I took a jacket out and held it. I reached in the pocket. I found two loose Tums and the last mint left in the wrapper of a roll. A paper clip. Left in a pocket years ago. My father always had Tums I recalled. My fathers Tums in my hand felt so real and so a part of him. I don't know why. I clutched them in my hand and carried them as I got ready to go. I had no pockets. They are in a baggie in my purse. I found a shirt. I took it home. It is on my pillow with me.
I don't know what happens when people die. I want my father back the way he was before Alzheimer's. I can't believe he is gone. I don't know what to do. It is time to sleep as I have been awake since the call except for little attempts at napping so I could make the trip back. My mother is in the next room and I think I hear her crying. I want to curl up with the Tums and the shirt and bring my father as close to me as possible in my memory and not let him go.
I feel lost and I feel like I abandoned him. I felt peace earlier but now I feel like I want to go out looking for him, searching somewhere because he can't really be gone. He just can't.