I am 61 years old. My life over the last seven years has realigned the way I see, feel, touch and experience the world around me.
On July 31, 2006, I found myself standing next to my grief stricken and tortured oldest son as he made the choice to “pull the plug” on a life support system keeping his 12-year-old son alive. I witnessed on that late evening, my son watch his son breathe his last.
The early morning of October 25, 2006 found me awakening to an unfamiliar vehicle sound and a knock at the door where I was living. Next, I was being handed papers with a strangers voice announcing “You are being sued for divorce,” by my wife of 30 years.
Midday of January 15, 2011, life with my father would change forever. I knelt beside a rented hospital bed and spoke words into the ear of his unconscious body and mind as my soul listening intently. His body shook with involuntary movements while I expressed my love and appreciation for who he was and that I knew his deep struggles to express himself. Not long after, my father sighed his last.
Nine months following on September 20, 2011 my oldest brother and I sat quietly in a facility that housed my mother. The shallow breath of her remaining strength were the only sounds that broke the silence. The minutes ticked away as my memories were adrift in those younger years when her vibrancy illuminated my inner sense of well-being. Now, my stillness was witnessing her last inhale.
It is 1 AM on August 11, 2013. The quiet buzzing of my cell phone broke my sleep. Who would call at this time? The answer came with a quivering and unsettled voice “our son Daniel is dead.” The rapid questions of disbelief and horror gave way to the comment “I will be there today.” A press to end the call began the wailing of a man facing his greatest fear. My wife, of just six months, held my limp body of rapidly descending weakness.
My minds’ need to command an exit to California takes precedence as I slowly go numb. The next two hours became a blur of nearly incoherent robotic moves for departing. Three AM arrives for a distant drive into a dark, foreboding mist laden highway that serve only a few up at that hour.
My tears were now flowing continuously as my trembling body struggled to contain a steering wheel, brakes and accelerator. My vision was awash with a cleansing that was uncontrollable, until I finally heard a voice within “Stop the car.” I quickly pulled over and announced to my startled wife “I must get out of the car.”
The moonless night was matched by a cold penetrating prompt of what must occur. There, on a deserted Florida highway, the gates of heaven and hell opened and revealed a part of me that God alone could hear and understand. I broke into shrieks and howling from a place inside that I had never known existed. My soul in anguish cannot emote words commensurate with its vulnerability completely exposed. After what seemed an eternity, I was hoarse and on my knees in sheer exhaustion. I turned my gaze to the eyes of my wife quietly sitting in the passengers seat watching in helplessness the breaking of the man she loves. At that moment, her eyes communicated a deep sense of compassion and love, those expressions became the only comfort I could grasp.