Time keeps moving so fast, and I’ve been putting this off but feel I need to finish telling my 2012. There’s certainly enough excuses not to, but since this blog has become my personal story in addition to my art, it’s too important not to. And since the scenes keep playing through my head at night, with my pillow wet with tears and I can’t sleep anyway, maybe this will at least be a sort of blog therapy…
After my grandma passed, I went back to Phoenix and tried to light a fire under our production company to get a project launched before the year end. A month flies by and before I know it, Mom’s talking about canceling her trip to meet up with her college roommates in September. A couple years ago she and her 4 friends started getting together once a year for a week in Atlantic City. I think it’s adorable and I want to start doing it with my own college roommates who I don’t see nearly enough anymore. They give each other gifts and this year she’s giving them my artwork. 🙂 I know she needs the trip more than she would admit and I convince her to go, saying I will take care of Dad for the week she’s gone. My flight gets delayed a day, Mom takes off as planned to handle some business in NJ with Gram’s house on her way and my aunt and cousin Dave step in to help watch Dad and pick me up from the airport. The only alarming thing is that in the couple hours when Mom leaves and my aunt gets there she has to help Dad off the floor back into bed and he’s not sure exactly what happened.. He swears he’s ok and goes to physical therapy. We feel guilty not telling Mom right away cause we’re 99% sure she’ll turn around and come back. I’m happy to see him. I like taking care of him, fixing his no salt high protein meals, carrying in wood to light fires, giving him back rubs. They show me how to check his blood sugar cause he’s now diabetic..?! but that’s pretty easy. His meds are meticulously organized. I bring my guitar home like I can serenade him back to health with the Taylor Swift songs I’ve been working on for my nieces. But it’s not the same without Mom around and I feel the full stress of responsibility for his well being. I think this is what a mother feels holding her newborn baby.. their fragile life in your hands. He’s not moving around nearly as well as he was this summer. I wake up to him calling for me and run to his room to find him about to slip off the bed. He needs help going to the bathroom, help getting up. I sleep on the couch now and jump at the slightest movement. He’s restless at night. I’m paranoid about him falling and watch him like a hawk. Things seem to be unraveling, like he was holding it together so Mom wouldn’t cancel her trip because of him. I cry myself to sleep at night as the realization sinks in deeper how sick he is. I don’t know how Mom is doing this by herself. We make it to the end of the week and it’s another PT day. I have my alarm set early cause every little task even meals take forever and I don’t want him to be late. After the morning routine I have him eating lunch safely at the table, so I leave to swap the truck for the car at his shop that he can get into. I chat with his business partner Lori and break down crying giving her an update on him. Heading home I think I lost track of time talking and am behind schedule. I pick him up and we shoot off to therapy. I stand there dumfounded as they tell me we are there 45 minutes early, unheard of in the Bergvall household. I beg them to take him early and realize as I park the car that its clock is set incredibly ahead of time. Dad is weak and the therapist seems concerned. I wonder why we bother going except that its a workout for him just to get there and back. He naps the rest of the day which is normal for a therapy day. My high school art teacher Betsy comes to visit. Dad comes out and says hello, but then asks me to help him back to bed. I can’t focus on painting so I play my guitar while she works on her art piece. I keep checking on Dad and he’s having odd conversations with me. Betsy leaves and I force Dad awake for his last meal and med regiment. He’s so weak that I’m using all my strength to move him to the chair. When he almost slides out of the chair I panic and call my sister. Her husband’s a doctor and tells me to go ahead and call 911. I feel like I’ve somehow failed on my watch. Nervous, I’m crying and shaking. Once they arrive I’m relieved he is under professional care again. Mom comes back a day early, but still has a night of driving ahead of her. She gets to the hospital sometime in the middle of the night. I see the side of her face is black and blue. Alarmed I say “What happened?!” and she says “Don’t ask..” I finally get it out of her that she tripped in the parking garage in Atlantic City. Her roommates tried to get her to go to the ER but she refused, as much time as she’s spent in hospitals lately. She says its the black cloud thats been following her..
The albumin level building in his stomach was causing the increasing confusion and weakness. It takes a day and a half for them to get him to poop it out. I know he’s feeling better when he’s mad he’s in the hospital. Liver disease is a horrible condition, the bloated stomach and muscle wasting away to skin and bone everywhere else. I fly back to Phoenix. He’s suddenly at the top of the transplant list and we get excited. Things go downhill when he gets pneumonia. Mom thinks I should fly back a week later. They have to intubate him, and when I get there it feels weird not being able to talk to him. All the time we’ve spent together and I still have so much to say. The surgeon who would give him the transplant comes in to check on him in the middle of the night. Says he’s carrying his beeper for us, but he can’t accept a liver for him till the pneumonia goes away. You have to be incredibly sick in NY State to get to #1 on the transplant list. We are anxious with anticipation that this surgery could be happening very soon. But instead the next day the doctors give us the speech they hate to give. The pneumonia got worse instead of better, his kidneys have failed and they’ve never seen someone in his condition survive the transplant. They recommend we take him off life support. Our world stands still and emotions pour out.
He is surrounded by everyone who loves him most. It is too soon to say goodbye. I feel his presence and I think,
I know you’re sorry Dad. I know you’re sorry you drank too many drinks and hurt your liver. I know you’re sorry you tried to convince yourself you were ok when you weren’t. I know you’re sorry you’re leaving Mom by herself when you know she deserved better than this from her husband. I know you’re sorry you’re not going to be with me on my wedding day, or get to meet my babies when I have them. I know you’re sorry for all the precious family moments you’ll be missing, so proud of the beautiful family you helped create.
I forgive you dad.
And I’m sorry too. I’m sorry I didn’t speak up when I knew you were drinking too much and it wasn’t good for your body. I’m sorry I didn’t find a way to help you cope years ago, when I knew you didn’t get over that someone stole from you and burned our house down. I’m sorry I ran off to California for so many years and the distance between us grew in all the ways you feared it would. I’m sorry you worried about me so much. I’m sorry you’re not going to see me be the success you know I’ve been working to become when you’ve believed in me so hard for so long. I’m sorry I can’t hear your voice, or feel your hug. I’m so very very sorry dad. I love you so much.