Tuesday, April 3, 2012
I am driving to the hospital, and I am feeling guilty. Yesterday, I ignored a voicemail from an unknown number. My father suffered a ministroke on Sunday, and I couldn’t bother to listen to the message. It is his third hospitalization in a year.
I arrive to a quiet room. My dad looks small, and I feel old.
Eventually, we are joined by his wife and my sister and brother. We greet each other with the perfunct kindness of a blended family.
“Here, I brought your glasses,” his wife says as the entire room stares at the glasses perched on his face. There is a loud, silent beat. “Where’d you get those?”
“Oh, Sarah brought them,” he answers.
I recall my father asking me to have a friend of mine sign two books for him and a mystery friend named “Sarah” about a year ago, a favor I had resented but obliged. I study the ceiling panels and wait for someone to change the subject.
Soon, I am telling jokes that feature myself as the punchline. I do well with anecdotes.
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
I work at a Southern Baptist church. My boss has plans to make a hospital visit to a member of the congregation and asks if he may stop in to see my father. He is on his way back to the church as I am leaving for the day. While in transit, I receive a text:
“Met your dad and Sarah.”
Sarcasm is my best friend. “Interesting! You’ll have to tell me all about her (I think that’s his mistress.).”
“Kinda thought that might be so,” he replies.
Although I’ve previously shared with him the briefest details of my family’s special take on dysfunction, I am ashamed. I am also energized and begin driving with focus.
I see a female visitor with my father as I approach his room, and I prepare myself to meet Sarah. Except this is not Sarah. This is Cynthia. It seems I am being treated to my own private daddy girlfriend parade.
Thursday, April 5, 2012
My dad has been transferred to the Rehab Hospital of the Pacific. His new digs are much more cramped. His wife, my siblings, and I are doing our usual routine of musical chairs, when a woman bursts into the room.
I recognize her immediately. Years ago, I saw the two of them together in the parking garage of my old work building. Because I am a
crazy passionate person, I followed them in my car, before rolling down my window to shout, “Hey! I work here!”
The object of my chase now extends an enthusiastic hand to my father’s wife. “Hi, I’m Sarah!” she chirps. Much like the day of our parking garage encounter, she ignores his offspring.
Later, my cousin will ask what Sarah looks like – “Is she young?”
“Not fine. And if she’s younger than his wife, then she’s like, maybe 58,” I spit.
We will joke about the unfine 58-year old slut flaunting her young age, because laughing is what I do, even when my heart is crumbling.
I have long fancied myself to be like the biblical Sarah. Sarah, who wished for a child but figured she was too old. Sarah, who laughed when the Lord promised He would make her secret desire come true.
And this woman, with her dash of self-deprecating humor, who dared to giggle at the power of God – He still rewarded her. Oh Father, when will my prayers be answered?
It has been over five months since my father died. “How are you doing?” everyone asks. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine” is not the answer they want to hear. People seem to want tears, wringing of hands, and confessions of sleepless nights.
Of course, I know that I am probably not fine. But when my father died, I still can not figure out if part of me died, too, or if it had already been dying for a very long time.