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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Death Certificate

My dad died on June 20, 2000. In March of that same year, we had the break-in incident. It was an emotional few months, to say the least.

When he passed away, I was crushed. I felt partially responsible since I had been the one to put him on a plane a few months before, sending him to live with his sister near Los Angeles. The story of my dad is too long to write in a short blog post, but suffice it to say he was a mentally unstable schizophrenic. He and my mom divorced when I was a sophomore in high school, and as sad as it sounds, I rejoiced when we were freed from him.

But after high school, I started to realize that his abuse was more related to his mental instability than his desire to make our lives a living hell. And I started to feel compassion for him.

Shortly before I put him on that plane, he was picked up by County Mental Health for knocking on people's doors and saying he was Jesus. When he was discharged (after finally getting an official Schizophrenia diagnosis), I was newly married and emotionally immature. There was no way he could live with us. I was having enough issues adjusting to life as a married woman (which is another post soon to come). So, I sent him down to stay with his sister until further notice.

After a few months at his sister's, he left a note saying it was his "time to go," and he disappeared.

I would lay awake at night wondering where he was. Did he have food? Did he have shelter? What about a toothbrush (I must admit I inherited his propensity toward clean teeth)? Did he have his glasses? My heart hurt with thoughts of him wandering around Los Angeles, homeless.

And then, months later, the call. My dear aunt (who had taken in my father despite the incredible inconvenience) called to tell me my dad had died. He was waiting at a bus stop, with a black trash bag full of all his earthly belongings, and collapsed. We soon discovered he had a brain aneurysm that took his life quickly and painlessly.

After the initial shock and despair, I was actually relieved. Not for myself, but for him. He hated being on this earth. He hated pretty much everything about it. It was as if a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders, knowing he was no longer suffering.

I recently sent off for a copy of his death certificate. A few days ago, it came in the mail.

It felt bizarre to read.

Age: 58
Date of death: 06/20/2000
Time of death: 1125
Immediate cause: Probable ruptured cerebral artery aneurysm
Time interval between onset and death: Rapid

I don't know why, but it stirred up a lot of feelings. Fifty-eight. So young. My mom is almost in-laws are both 59. I can't imagine losing any of them so suddenly. Yet, it happens all the time. It made me remember that our lives are so fragile. My kids, my friends, my family...we are all here temporarily. We can be gone in an instant.

But, I am also comforted by the fact that this isn't it. There is hope in knowing there is so much more to come.


GB's Mom said...

My Dad died July 3,2007, in his sleep. There were no warning signs. Life is fragile. Life is precious. I look forward to seeing up again in the afterlife.

Sally- That Girl! said...

Oh this can be a coffee topic for sure!!! We may have to meet on a more regular basis!!! :-)

Looking forward to having coffee with you!

J. said...

that's a tough one, it is hard sometimes to knwo which is better.

Essie the Accidental Mommy said...

It must have been hard to see "the facts" in writing like that. Maybe it felt cold, detached and impersonal when your Dad was a person who mattered.
Just speculating. It sounds like a rough life.

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