I work very hard and am attending college to obtain my degree in the Human Service field. Writing makes me feel alive and gives me the opportunity to touch those whom I would not be able to otherwise. Last but not least, I have been blessed with two amazing daughters who love me completely and support my dreams. Feel free to contact me with questions, concerns or feedback.
July 27th marked the 5th year of my beloved father's passing. It was a somber day, something that left me speechless for the most part. I took some time to talk to my dad, visit his gravesite and then allowed myself the opportunity to shoot a few photos of myself lying next to his engraved stone along with the beautiful sky above.
Yesterday, I arrived home late and noticed the overwhelmingly grief filled news regarding Robin William's passing. Cause of death: asphyxiation. My heart stopped, literally. I couldn't believe my eyes. I know what you're thinking, the rest of us are in just as much shock. Yet, for me, and those like myself, this was so much deeper.
The following words are not those I share often. It has been 5 long years and not a single day goes by that I don't think of him. My Dad, Tom, my beloved father, best friend, confidante, cheerleader, smartest, funniest, wittiest guy I knew. A guy who not only apologized but begged my forgiveness for not being the dad I deserved and needed.
Although I could look through my previous blogs, I prefer to take this moving forward. See, my Dad, my best buddy, suffered his entire life. He lived with demons from his childhood. Living in a home where his father mentally, emotionally, sexually and physically terrorized his mother on a regular basis. My Dad and his brothers would simply be locked in a bedroom while his father committed henious acts upon the woman who gave birth to them. Although my father eventually left the house, got married and began having children, it wasn't soon after that the body of his father was found by my Grandmother in the family garage. He had died from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, a suicide attempt which left the family reeling.
My Dad and I talked about this occasionally. It took years for my beloved Grandma, his mother, to confess that my Grandpa "wasn't a very good guy". As a Catholic woman, she was dedicated to her husband and children. Women of that decade and years prior didn't have the same opportunities regarding reporting domestic violence thus stayed in the marriage.
Throughout my life, my father admitted the best day of his life was the very day his mother called screaming about finding his lifeless body in the family garage.
Although my father never received counseling, he struggled with depression and alcohol abuse throughout most of his life. He was an amazing financial provider, yet when it came to the emotional, physical or mental nourishment, we received little to none. He simply didn't have the capability because he had not been given the tools.
On July 27th, 2009, I fell asleep at approximately 10:30pm. Two hours later, my daughter was in my room, 'Mom, wake up, Colleen is here!". I looked at my alarm clock. I had been asleep for just two short hours. Thoughts raced through my mind. "Is my sister having problems with her husband? I have to get up for work soon. What the heck is going on?"
As I sat up, dressed and walked into the living room, my sister and her daughter were standing by my front door. "What's up Colleen", I asked. "Sit down Laurie", she requested. I did as she instructed. The following words flowed from her mouth and caused my life to cease as I knew it. "Dad is gone."
I said, "Excuse me? What are you talking about?" She went on to say that my sister residing in California with my Dad had been called earlier the previous day. The manager of the apartment where my father resided hadn't seen him all day. She had requested the Police do a welfare check. My sister agreed. The Officer knocked on the door. No response. He inserted the key into the lock and slowly opened the door. He felt the most incredible backdraft of heat and quickly shut the door.
Believing there was a fire within, the Fire Department was called. (If you recall what I had stated previously, my Dad had retired from the West Allis FD years ago. He had been a Firefighter/Paramedic.)
The Fire Department entered. What they found wasn't a fire, it was extreme heat, in excess of 150 degrees. They found my Dad naked, lying on his bed. Rigormortis had set and he was gone. The investigation resulted in the following: my Dad passed from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning.
Although it was not labeled a suicide I know the following surreal disturbing facts:
1. My Dad had rigged his oven to be on the highest temperature setting at all time.
2. He would close his entire apartment every evening and turn the heat up to it's highest setting.
3. Months prior to his passing, he had begun to act erratic, being found one time naked outside of his apartment building.
4. He began to act paranoid and would have explosive fits if my sister sent a cleaning team into his apartment.
5. He began to insist my sister walk different ways into his apartment, demanded she not speak to the regular customer service associates that had come to love him.
6. My sister stated she was planning on taking my Dad to the doctor for a checkup and was considering yet another Assisted Living Facility due to his erractic behavior.
To this day, I cannot comprehend why my father made the choices he did regarding his gas stove. I had spoken with him not too soon before his passing. He didn't seem depressed, he was talking normal for the most part and still had his intellect and amazing sense of humor.
My sisters and I, just like the Williams children and so many others, are left to wonder why.
My father did not leave a note, yet I will share what he did leave. I recall having a dream two months after his passing. In this dream, he walked in front of me while I lie on a raised front porch. I said, "Dad!", and he turned to me. I jumped up and he grabbed me in his arms. I said, "Why did you leave me?" His response, "I had to go." Immediately after his words, I began to wake. My body began heaving. I was sobbing so violently that I had to cover my mouth with a pillow as to avoid waking my children with my incredulous screams. As I write this tears form in my eyes from the very experience of it all.
Needless to say, the following day at work was overwhelmingly painful. I didn't get it. I didn't understand why he said he had to go. How the heck was I going to get answers?
It took a year, maybe even more. The answer came to me. My father was right. He had to go. Prior to his passing, he was my sounding board. I relied on him maybe one or 100 too many times. It wasn't until his passing that I began to rely on my wisdom. I began to make decisions based on what I knew, instead of what my Dad knew. I took chances, said yes and began the greatest adventures of my life. II had to take the bull by the horns and believe in myself.
Since my father's passing, my blogging has flourished. I have had my picture and words featured online through the CNN website. I purchased a camera, was given an SLR and have taken the most brilliant and amazing pictures. I took a trip to Denver to reunite with my first love. The artist in me emerged and my creativity has flourished. I think you get the "picture" (pun intended).
One day my father will answer my questions. There have been very few dreams since and one time, while working at the Museum, I felt his presence. It was so physically close that I felt him lean against me, the way he once did. I know for a fact that not only he knows every aspect of my life, I carry him with me. How can I not? His DNA runs through my veins.
To all of those who have loved someone who left with too many unanswered questions, I walk with you. I understand. Believe me when I say it gets easier. If you allow yourself the opportunity to heal, you too will come to understand that every single one of us will leave at exactly the time it's meant to happen.
To my Dad, I'm jealous. I know you and Robin Williams are hanging out in the Laugh Factory Cloud sharing jokes. I know you'll give him some great material.