Hanging on

My father died unexpectedly a week ago. He was only 57, and it was a complete shock to my whole family. Those of you who know me pretty well know that he had ongoing health issues, mainly that he had seizures due to a brain injury from a car accident he was in a few years before he got married. They were issues that my family and I had learned to deal with. It was normal for him to have to be sent to the hospital once every few months. He also survived prostate cancer a couple years ago and a pretty serious gum and sinus infection from a polyp in his nasal cavity. We all knew he had ongoing health concerns, but they were under control as much as possible. When he suddenly had trouble breathing last Monday morning, my brother called an ambulance right away, but no one expected it was going to be as serious as it was. He had stopped breathing, and by the time they got to the hospital, there was nothing they could do. The doctors think it may have been a pulmonary embolism.

My brother called me from the hospital. I had been outside searching for my cat Oskar, who had somehow gotten outside the night before even though he hates the outdoors. I had to go into autopilot to throw my aerobed and laptop into the car and have my boyfriend drive to pick up my youngest brother and then head to the hospital. My brother was there with my mother. He had to go pick up my third brother from the train station. It was just horrible.

But when we got home from the hospital, our house was already full of people. One of my mother’s sisters was there, as were about four or five of her really close friends, with coffee and donuts. My mother’s brother had been working on my grandmother’s living room in the apartment upstairs from ours, so he was there too, and one of her other sisters was on her way over with pasta and the ingredients to make sauce. Two more of her sisters showed up later that afternoon. The day felt so long—from the hospital to the funeral home a few hours later and then the florist—but it was made bearable by the outpouring of support from everyone we knew. I felt lucky that my mother was part of such a big family (five sisters and one brother). They all lost their dad far too early too, so they understood in a special way what we were going through. My dad’s oldest brother was there at the funeral home with us, and his other brother and his family flew up from Florida and visited on Tuesday.

My friends were also the most amazing people in the world. Friends and even parents of friends came to the wake and the funeral. Coworkers stopped in, and the company sent beautiful flowers to the funeral home. My entire MFA class still living on this coast came to the wake. People have been emailing or calling daily just to check in and see how I’m doing, and my college roommate came to visit this weekend to make sure I was ok. I can’t tell you all how much it helps having such good people in our lives. After the wake Wednesday night, there was a large group of friends and family at my house cheering on the Bruins in Game 7 as they won their first Stanley Cup in almost 40 years. My dad would’ve loved it.

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