Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Gone Daddy Gone

My father died. A week ago I flew home to Georgia and my family and I honored his wishes by taking him off life support. He ended up having Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a rare neurological disorder that attacks your brain tissue; my Dad had every symptom. First you have insomnia, then psychosis. Eventually you can't see and you can't walk, you startle easily and your eyes track over empty space like you are watching a bird fly over your head. Finally, you can't breathe. There is no cure.

He died at 3:33 pm on Tuesday October 30th. Three three three. I'm 27.

My entire life I have always had a visual picture of my heart. The first time I ever fell in love, I saw my heart pierced with a needle, being sewn ever so slowly to him. When it ended, I saw the strings cut and slowly fall out. I've felt my heart swollen and pumping outside of my chest. I've felt it sick and black. I've felt a double ended arrow lodged in it. When I am in intense emotional pain, I often imagine something piercing the left side.

Right now I feel like someone has held a shotgun and blown out the left side of my chest. Or like there's some sort of ethereal mimicry of my real heart floating in an empty space.

Yes, I'm being dramatic, but for god's sake my father just died. This IS fucking dramatic. I don't know who I am writing this too, and I feel strange to be so personal, and there's a very real chance that I'll be misunderstood and people will think I am fucked up (which I'm not), but I just need to say some things and I don't want to write to myself or to one person.

I want to crawl up inside my father's chest and coil myself around his spine. I see him wherever I go; he's sitting across from me in class, he's on the other side of the student center, he's walking up the stairs from the bookstore. I think about him constantly. I want his body full of fat and organs and blood to sit in his chair and get up and walk across the room. I want his eyes to open and his arms to move. I want him to wear out his shoes and put something in his mouth and chew it. He used to hear me and write me emails and sleep. Now he is literally a pile of dust. I was with him when he died. My hand was on his forehead. Moments later, I looked at him and thought, "that's not my Dad." I don't believe in souls, but I do believe in life. My Dad's body was not him, but it was evidence that he existed. There was comfort knowing that his body existed.

My Dad was a star who held me in the sky like the earth and the sun hold the moon. Everything is different now.

I've faced difficult, heartbreaking shit at least a few times before. I know how to get through this, and I will. There are fires that refine you. This is an awful, beautiful, terrible, awesome beginning of the rest of my life. I have never loved my father as much as I do now. That is precious.

I don't believe in God. It's not my fault. If you do, pray for my mother who put her father in the hospital today, who has to go back to the hospital after she was there every day for six weeks. Pray for my brother who is trying his best to be a good father. Pray for my father's mother and father who buried their son.

If you own a copy of In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, put on track 5, the funeral procession, and think about how there's an uncanny feeling of freedom when the absolute worst thing happens.
I don't understand that. Let track 5 flow into this:
The only girl I've ever loved
Was born with roses in her eyes
But then they buried her alive
One evening 1945
With just her sister at her side
And only weeks before the guns
All came and rained on everyone
Now she's a little boy in Spain
Playing pianos filled with flames
On empty rings around the sun
All sing to say my dream has come

But now we must pick up every piece
Of the life we used to love
Just to keep ourselves
At least enough to carry on

And now we ride the circus wheel
With your dark brother wrapped in white
Says it was good to be alive
But now he rides a comet's flame
And won't be coming back again
The Earth looks better from a star
That's right above from where you are
He didn't mean to make you cry
With sparks that ring and bullets fly
On empty rings around your heart
The world just screams and falls apart

But now we must pick up every piece
Of the life we used to love
Just to keep ourselves
At least enough to carry on

And here's where your mother sleeps
And here is the room where your brothers were born
Indentions in the sheets
Where their bodies once moved but don't move anymore
And it's so sad to see the world agree
That they'd rather see their faces fill with flies
All when I'd want to keep white roses in their eyes

If you'd like more details, including my Dad's obituary and eulogy, go to my brother Mac's blog.


JESSICA!!! said...

my dearest susie -

you know i'm not a praying person, but i do believe in respectful requests of the energies of the world. i ask them to protect you and your family and comfort you and i send all my love to you in this terrible time. your entry is so poetic and beautiful that i'm crying in sympathy and wish i could give you a hug. i'll spare you any zen platitudes and simply say that your father dying is so sucky and i wish i could be there to take some of your pain or make you tea or read you poetry.


Megan and Vinny said...

susie susie,
i love you so much. my heart aches for yours. i am a praying person and i will continue to pray for you and your family. i adore you. i also wish i could take some of your pain away.

i don't really know what else to say. call anytime. anytime.


Paul Dunn said...

Hey Susanna,

I can't imagine your pain right now. I really wish I could've been there for you, for Mac, and for your mother. I know Mac has already shared with you some of the things I remember about your Dad. He had 2 wonderful kids, both of which I know he was extremely proud to call his own. I see a lot of him in you and know that that's what made him most proud.

Your friend,

sarahw said...

Oh Susanna,
I wish so much that I could be of some comfort to you; I wish I were not so far away. Please know that you and your family are in my thoughts. Thank you so much for sharing what you're going through in your entry and please know that you can call me anytime if you need to talk.


Adam Hiatt said...

I don't know if you remember me? My name is Adam, I used to live in Roman Gardens when you and your brother Mac were there back when I was at BYU. I found your blog through Tim Boisvert's blog and linked over.

My contact info is on my webpage at:

I'm so sorry to hear about your dad's death. I'm so sorry for your loss. I know you must miss him terribly. I do believe in God and I will pray for you and your family.

I also believe in the resurrection of the body and that some day your father will live again and that you will get to see him again after you die as well.

I wish you all the best. I will pray that you and your family and all who knew him may be comforted.

-- Adam