Two weeks ago my dad had a heart attack. Thankfully, there were no goodbyes.
The kids were finally in bed, crashing in their Halloween-induced sugar comas, and I had just sat down with a glass of wine. My finger was poised above the ‘send’ button on my phone to call my youngest brother to wish him a happy birthday when a text popped up from my middle
I sat, momentarily frozen, reading the words. Understanding, yet not comprehending. Heart hammering in my chest.
…Dad’s on his way to SJ. He had a heart attack…
Not possible. And the date. God, not today, I thought. Not now. It was my youngest brother’s birthday. And the day before the anniversary of my mother’s death. Seriously with the timing, Papá?! We would later joke about the irony in a funnynotfunny sort of way. The way only people who have narrowly escaped a tragedy can banter.
I guess my mom thought it was not funny at all since she made sure he would not be joining her this time around. Ultimately my dad got lucky. Lucky he recognized the symptoms. Lucky he got himself to the hospital safely. Lucky he received immediate treatment. Three stents later and he’s feeling downright spritely. Heart attack, be damned.
I’d like to think I stayed calm while all this was going down. That I didn’t lose my sh*t. The picture of grace under pressure. Easy to say when you’re not in the thick of things. I was ready to hop a plane to be at my dad’s side. And while I was thankful my middle brother was there with him, I felt helpless–inadequate, even–despite assurances that Papá was in good hands.
It’s a strange feeling knowing we were *this* close to losing our dad. There were so many ‘what-ifs’. What if he had just shrugged off the chest pain? What if he hadn’t gotten to the hospital safely? What if? What if? What if?
What if we are just not ready for goodbyes?
For more information on how to recognize the signs of a heart attack, visit Heart and Stroke Foundation.