My dad had a massive heart attack last year a few days prior to his scheduled surgery for the sarcoma that was growing in his left upper chest. The irony. I saw him the Saturday before his scheduled date. He looked uncomfortable. He said he was having some pain in his chest. I told him, it might be anxiety or that maybe he was forming scar tissue. But told him to take an aspirin just in case for preventive measures. He refused saying “Dr. told me not to take any blood thinners.” I assured him one aspirin wouldn’t kill him and it would be alright. But he didn’t see the nurse talking… he just saw the his little girl nagging him probably. :(. Had he listened… the story may have been different. No, he survived. But his heart was severely damaged. More than it needed to be… more than it had to be. But the past is the past. The crazier part was that he didn’t go to the hospital until MONDAY morning. It’s the KOREAN IRON-MAN SYNDROME… or straight stupidity… but that’s what happened. I was at work when it happened. But I wasn’t worried… because he was still alive. In my eyes, my dad is a warrior. My protector. My love. He didn’t need me to worry. My sister and mom played it off as if it was nothing so I didn’t worry. I went to the ICU at Cedar’s to find out that they did what they could to salvage his heart health… they gave him “ONE stent” was what I heard. So I thought… “great, it must have not been so bad after all.”
The next day after talking to the DRs… I was informed “that was all they could do because of the amount of damage.” It changed everything. Tears just swarmed my eyes. I just cried and stared at him. He was not the warrior I knew from just a few days before. He looked weak. Lost. Defeated. And ready to give up. He had survived so much in his lifetime. Mugging at knife point in broad daylight. Business success and failures. Heartache. I just wanted to give him a break. I’ve always wanted to.
But how do you prepare yourself to let go of someone? It’s crazy. Growing up because my dad married so late in his life… we always feared an untimely death. But nowadays, it’s all to real. I know, anyone at any given time can be taken from us… but I choose to not think about those things. If I even remotely think about my mom… I dismantle. That thought is buried in a deep place I don’t ever want to venture.
My dad told me today that he felt like he had another heart attack last night. The thing is… when he talks about illness and stuff, my defense mechanism kicks in and I’m no longer his daughter. I’m stoic. Informative. Irritable. Because I’m afraid. We’ve had discussions to great length in terms of his fears, his wants, and what he wants. But it’s hard to think it may become a reality. I go to sleep nightly wondering if he’s going to be awake in the morning for me to greet. I sometimes agonize over the fact that I didn’t call him in a few days… and at the moment he closes eyes and takes his last breath… will he know I was thinking about him, loving him, and wishing him peace.
I danced my father and daughter dance to Taylor Hick’s “Do I Make You Proud?” I hope I did and do. I love you.
NOTE***(Heart Attack symptoms aren’t always chest pain. It’s jaw, shoulder, and neck pain. It may feel like indigestion. Difficulty Breathing. Heavy chest. If you are feeling those symptoms… take an aspirin immediately. It can make a world of difference in your outcome. And note… these days… heart attacks/strokes seem to be happening younger and younger). Be vigilant about your health… especially your heart health.