I spent most of Friday at the hospital. Dad had gone to the doctor earlier in the week after experiencing shortness of breath. Tests revealed blockage in his heart, so they scheduled him for an arteriogram Friday. We were told they would either treat it with medication, insert a stent, or do open heart surgery, depending on what the arteriogram showed.
After several hours of waiting and being as nervous as I think I've ever been, the doctor finally came out to talk to us. The news was not good. All three main arteries have significant blockage, including one that is about 90% blocked. He said it was too much to fix with stents and recommended bypass surgery.
I wanted to go back in time five minutes, before I knew. I wanted to go back to being seven years old, going fishing with Dad for the first time with a plastic yellow rod and reel that was never gonna catch anything, when I had blonde hair and he still had hair. And a snake swam by and Dad said we had to go and we ran to the car and didn't go fishing again for years.
But I didn't say a word. I just stood there and put on my strongest face, trying not to show how scared I had suddenly become. I looked at the X-Rays the doctor was showing us thinking there was going to be some mistake, but knowing there wouldn't be.
And then I thought about Dad still lying in the cardiac unit by himself, having just been told this very same news. And I felt very selfish.
Dad has to go in Thursday for some pre-op tests and it looks like the surgery will be sometime next week. I know he has to be worried sick, but he isn't showing it much. Though his memory about that first fishing trip seems to be a bit hazy, as he recounted it Friday saying I was the one who got scared and begged to leave.
I know bypass surgery is a common procedure nowadays. The surgeon told us there is a 98 percent success rate. And that seems very high until you're talking about the life of someone you love.
Someone suggested it may be one of the hardest things in life, realizing your parents are human and are becoming older and won't be here forever. Of course, neither will I. Neither will any of us. But it just doesn't sink in most of the time. I can be the strong one. I can hold back tears as long as necessary. But I can't make this alright. That's a hard thing to accept.
I've spent the weekend thinking about Dad. Thinking about entire weeks when I didn't make time to see him, and all the days I didn't so much as give him a call.
Dad plays guitar and is in a band and plays music somewhere almost every weekend. I haven't been to see him play in over a year.
He bought me a used drum set once in hopes that I might learn to play, and maybe even play with his band. I never practiced and he eventually sold the set.
A few months ago, Dad said he was trying to write some songs and if he emailed me the lyrics would I tell him what I thought and maybe help him some because "you're good at stuff like that." They all seemed like 60's pop songs to me, like bad Beatles lyrics. I told him they were OK and that was that.
Those are things I missed out on. It's not so much guilt as it is regret. The time is so precious and you can't ever get it back. I should go see him more. I know I should.
Life is just a whisper. Even the bad days truly aren't all that bad. Why can't I ever learn to cherish every single one of them?
"I'm wishin' my Dad was forty again. He would be young and I would be ten."