My father taught me that I needed to question things. He taught me that I needed to dig into a topic, a person, a story or whatever I may be interested in, and analyze the grimy details, the fluffy pieces and the horrible moments. Then, with a complete, or more complete understanding of my subject, I could levy an accurate opinion that was steeped in truth and fact, rather than one derived from emotion. Though radically important, emotion, he felt, would cloud one’s judgement and distract them from making a choice baked with truth and reason.
In the year leading up to the sudden onset of my father’s mysterious illness, we would debate and converse about various current events. We discussed a variety of issues, such as politics, US foreign policy, history, and social issues. Through these debates, my father explained how important he saw voting, and democracy. He saw no government as perfect, however, he felt democracy was the closest we could come to perfect.
By Election Day, he had been starting to have days where he seemed to become foggy and disconnected from the world, as if he was an Alzheimer’s patient. My mother and I left him after a pleasant, and relaxed evening. The evening was saturated with soothing tones. The three of us seemed to have been encased by these mellow feelings as we sat in the ICU room, vaguely listening to the election results on the TV. At the end of our visit, we gathered our stuff and left him alone in the room, with only a ghostly glow of the various machines and monitors as company.
On the drive home, I followed what had become my ritual. I talked with my mother about our visit until we left the eerie lights of the city behind. Then, popped my headphones in and drifted away from the world. I stretched out on a comforting cloud of rock and roll as I left my mother alone to contemplate my father’s condition, the regular monthly bills and the growing pile of household chores resting throughout our home. I abandoned her in a moment where we both choked on agony at a daily pace. Our lives had been transformed by the sickening dread seeping through our bodies. Equally as often, this distorted plight would spill over into clumsy actions forged from an unending agitation that massaged our nerves, and coaxed our minds to twist and whirl around the clock.
As I jammed to my music, I flipped through songs, trying to drown out the constant, and fuzzy noise of this tragic situation. Through either a bizarre coincidence, or the bitterest twist of fate I found my thumb hovering above a new song from a favorite band of mine. My thumb clicked on the words In the End, and with each second of the new track, I was distracted from the unfair world outside of my headphones by a beautiful ensemble of guitars and bold lyrics.
As I enjoyed the blissful, musical escape I caught my motion from the corner of my eye. My mother was digging through her immense purse for her cell phone. I tore my headphones out, found her phone and answered it. Before I found the phone, and before I clicked the little green circle, I knew who was calling and why. My father had coded, and the medical professionals in the ICU were fending off the darkened figure that had been standing in the corner his room for the past month. The nurses and doctors were fighting to keep him alive.
It is fitting the last time I would speak to my father would be on November 8th, 2012. More specifically, it was a gloomy, cold Election Day night just hours after I had voted in my first presidential election. The last topic we discussed was me voting. Looking back, it was a grand conclusion in a lifelong quest to learn, and share knowledge with the world.
Through further invasive, and truly extreme measures, my father was kept alive for several more weeks. A fancy machine pumped air into his lungs, allowing his heart to continue to beat and squeeze blood through his body. According to the older definition, he was alive simply because his heart and lungs were functioning. If his heart failed next, the medical professionals could have attached him to another machine that would have directed his blood throughout his arteries and veins.
By artificial means my father was alive. He could no longer talk for a few reasons, the first and most brutal being the tube that had been run down his throat, ensuring he would “breathe”. Cancer, and other infections had battered his body too severely, and his lungs could no longer do so on their own. The other reason being he was sedated. He was on a lavishly designed cocktail of medication to counteract a variety of nasty issues that were assaulting his body. It was under these circumstances that his doctors put the idea forth that it would be in my father’s best interest to “pull-the-plug”, and allow him to slowly suffocate to death as he fought to breathe. They brought up the quality of life argument, and stated he will waste away if we do not kill him. Needless to say, this time, we considered the doctor’s words and began to talk over the options laid out before us.
If you missed it, the previous chapter, And the New Only Crafted Fear Within my Bones, can be read here
You can read the conclusion, In the End, here .