On February 15th, my father passed away suddenly.
He was 65 years old. In the days before his passing, he had complained of "indigestion" and pain in his back and shoulders. I told my mom, those are signs of him having had a heart attack, or being on his way to having one. I told her, make him go to the hospital.
He refused to go for four whole days.
My mom said on Saturday, he was having trouble breathing. He couldn't even walk from the family room to the bathroom. She coaxed him into speaking with our neighbor and friend, who is a nurse. She convinced him to go to the walk-in medical center where she works.
He tried to drive himself. But halfway down our street, he said to my mom, "I can't drive."
She took the wheel, and one block away from the clinic, he went into sudden cardiac arrest. He died next to my mom, in her car. She ran into the clinic, crying for help. They tried to revive him on the ground, in the snow but there was no bringing him back.
This last week has been incredibly difficult. I miss my dad. And I'm going to miss him the rest of my life. There will be events - like my upcoming graduation - that will make me miss him even more because I'll wish he was there. And I'll be angry at him sometimes, because if he had just gone to the hospital when we'd asked him to, he might still be here. But that is life. He thought nothing was wrong. He didn't think he'd die, either.
Just five years ago, I was really struggling with my eating disorder. One night my father took out his 72" folding ruler. He unfolded it and said "This is the Ruler of Life. We call it that, because if you make it to 72, you had a pretty good run. You lived a long life, and a good one hopefully." He indicated the 20" mark on the ruler and said "You're all the way down here. You're not even past the second fold. You've got a long ways to go, and a lot of living left to do." Then, he indicated the 60" mark. "I'm here. I'm almost at the end. I want to know you're going to be okay before I get there."
I don't think he knew that when he told me that five years ago, it would be something I thought of often, and encouraged me to keep trying. I can't believe it was only five years ago. I wish he had made it to 72, like he wanted to. I wish he could be here to see the great things I want to do with my life. I wish he could be here, to tell me when he's proud of me, and to tell me he loves me and not to cry anymore.
At least he knew I was going to be okay before he reached the end, even if the end came too soon.