It was early evening a couple nights before Thanksgiving 2015 that the phone rang. Every parent knows the ring I am talking about. It’s the ring that comes and you immediately know something is wrong before even knowing who is calling. It was my oldest daughter Alicia…I could hear the blur of both courage and panic in her voice as she tried to talk…I was out the door before her first sentence was done.
My wife Mary and I had separated not long before this night. Maybe a year. We remained close and lived in the same apartment complex for the good of our youngest daughter Kay, who was 5 years old at the time. On this night, Kay, Alicia and Mary had sat down to play a game of Monopoly when Mary suffered a sudden and massive stroke. Alicia was so strong…balancing getting Kay away from the event, making the 911 call, trying to help her mom and reach me. It had to feel like an avalanche.
I arrived across the complex at Mary’s place as the paramedics were treating Mary and getting ready to get her into the ambulance. I knew Mary’s medical history from the 23 years we had been together. One look was all I needed to know…this was not good at all. I gave the paramedics some needed medical history and told Alicia to ride with them to the hospital as I gathered up Kay. From what I had saw and knew of Mary’s medical history, I wasn’t sure she would make it to the hospital. I didn’t want Alicia to “not be there” had she wanted to wait for me to get Kay ready and drive to the hospital. Two days later at 02:20 a.m. the morning of November 25th, 2015 Mary passed away peacefully.
After Alicia and I said final goodbyes and spoke with the nurse on duty, I stepped outside to call our son (the oldest of the three kids) to let him know. Alicia and I had been keeping in regular contact with him from the moment it happened. He was trying to make emergency arrangements to get from Chicago to Sacramento…there wouldn’t be any need for rushing now. I think that was the hardest conversation I’ve ever had. Knowing that he couldn’t be there…that he wanted and was trying to be there.
After I hung up with him, I sat in the parking lot and lit a cigarette trying to gather thoughts…the ton of bricks began coming down. It was finally hitting me. All of it. How was I going to help them? Kay so young. Alicia a 21-year-old just becoming her own woman and a firstborn, our son, just getting things together himself at twenty-four. It was overwhelming. What could I do? There were no words and each of them needed words. God, they needed so much more, but they at least needed words from their dad. As I lit the 2nd cigarette in the parking with my head spinning, these words came to my mind as if to calm the storm;
“With the darkness closin’ in, Will the light reveal your soul? Just one sweet kiss, On your clay cold lips, One long sleep you’ll never know…Where do we go, where do we go? Where do we go from here?” –Rock Bottom UFO Phil Mogg/Michael Schenker
I’ve been a musician since my early teens. At various time in my life, music has provided a sense of calm, some clarity or inspiration. Never in my life had I needed more of all of that than in this moment and oddly there was “music” again. I ran the song through my mind from start to finish and thought to myself; Yes…where DO we go from here? The answer came as quickly and seemingly out of nowhere as the song did. We go forward. I don’t know for sure what that forward means…nor what it will “look” like, but I do know, It’s what Mary would have wanted. We go forward.
This post was originally published on KKAndDad.com and is republished here with permission from the author.
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