I could say I didn’t see it coming. Except that I did. I worried and fretted and tried to talk to other family members about my fears. I saw signs, and I especially tried to warn my mother. She didn’t even have her name on their joint checking account. What would she do if anything happened?
No one listened so I prayed. I prayed every morning for six months straight. Please Lord, don’t let that horrible thing happen.
I had been attending the little white church for three years, and the sense of family and my relationship with God were wonderful additions to a life shaped by fear and sadness. I had finally left Dr. Teemis and began seeing a young masters level student counselor doing his internship. He continued to probe into all the dark places, the hurts that weren’t healed yet, the wounds that were still fresh. I still didn’t understand my illness and hadn’t made a lot of progress.
My mother invited us over for dinner a few days after Thanksgiving. My dad loved chocolate cream pie, so I decided to surprise him and bring one with me. I was baking the crust when the phone rang.
“Linda, you need to come over here!” I heard panic in my mother’s voice and got her to calm down long enough to tell me what happened. My dad had put his shoes on and told her he was going to the garage. When he didn’t return she went to see what he was up to. She peeked in and saw him lying on the cement; she ran back into the apartment and called the paramedics, then me.
My chest felt hollow, and once again I found myself holding on to the dashboard of the car as we rushed over to the apartment. My mind filled with memories of another emergency three years earlier, in August of 1975, when my brother committed suicide. I tried to will the thoughts away, but they seemed to force the breath from my lungs.
We pulled up to the curb outside my parent’s apartment and I noticed a small crowd gathered across the street. A paramedic was closing the back doors of the van and I saw there was no one on the gurney. I looked over at the garage, hoping that my dad was chatting with a police officer nearby. The garage door was partially closed, and my heart lurched as I turned away. I went into the apartment and stood in the center of the living room, staring at my mom. We didn’t speak. There was a knock at the door.
A young police officer stood with a clipboard in his hand. “I need to ask you some questions,” he said quietly. “Was your father right-handed or left-handed?”
“Right-handed,” I answered. What is he getting at? I wasn’t about to ask any questions. Maybe Dad will come walking in the door and we can all just go home and pretend this never happened.
“How old was your father?” he continued.
How old was he? Was? “Fifty-one.” I am a robot. My mind has become separated from my body. I’m on another plane. I may not be able to get back this time.
It’s too late. She’s gone too far. She’s lost the sun. She’s come undone
~The Guess Who
Once the questions were over and the front door shut against the world, I walked past my mother sitting silently on the couch and went into the bathroom. I shut the door and locked it. And then I did what I thought any self-respecting believer in Christ who has any faith at all should do. I stared in the mirror and whispered a prayer. “Thank you, Jesus, thank you, Jesus, praise you, Jesus.” But deep in the brain that had detached from the body, another phrase was repeating itself over and over again. You’ve destroyed me, God. I’m done.