No no no no no no no.
This keeps going through my head over and over. My dad had a stroke.
No. Can’t be true. Nope.
Mentally I’m holding my ears and scrunching my eyes closed and saying la la la la la as loud as I can.
My dad had. A stroke.
My grandfather had a stroke. My dad’s dad. He had a couple actually. Ultimately he died. I was too young to remember the man he was before the stroke. I’m told it changed him a lot. I only have pinpoints of memories of my grandfather. His stroke made him much grumpier and as a small child I didn’t understand it. I loved him though despite the fact that he scared me a little. I wish I could remember him as he was before his strokes. I don’t think he would have scared me then.
I wonder if my dad had as hard a time accepting things when it was his dad as I’m having now that it’s mine. I wonder if his mind argued with itself. His dad was an amazing man, I’m told. I know my dad thought so. How did he handle it when it was his dad lying in a bed or sitting in a wheelchair? I wish I could ask him.
I visit my dad and I see the other stroke patients. They’re old. My dad can’t be old. My dad can’t possibly belong here with all these weak, sick old people. He doesn’t belong there.
Those can’t be my dad’s legs, so small and frail. Those can’t be my dad’s arms, barely able to lift himself an inch. My dad picks me up when I’ve fallen and hurt myself. His are the arms I can curl up in when I’ve had a scary dream. He gives me advice when I have a problem. The roles aren’t supposed to reverse like this. He’s my dad.
The worst is his mind though. He’s not there. At least not completely. My dad not only knows the year and the president but he’ll talk your ear off passionately for hours about exactly how said president has failed. My dad doesn’t stare off into space. My dad doesn’t just follow a conversation, he leads it.
No Dad, it’s not 2003. No Dad, it’s not 2012. No Dad, you’re not going home tomorrow. No Dad, that man in the next room isn’t your brother.
I can’t stand it. It breaks my heart into a million pieces. It’s so unfair that my dad is almost 73 and I’m only 25. I feel like I’m desperately clawing, trying to hold onto every precious second I have with him and those seconds are sand, disintegrating underneath my nails faster and faster and faster.
It takes my breath away to think of losing him. How much less of a whole my family would be without his hearty, infectious laugh and goofy jokes. I’ve had that ticking clock in the back of my mind for years now. I knew I couldn’t keep him forever. Why do I feel like someone just sped up the countdown?
It could have been so much worse. He can walk and talk. If you didn’t know him you might not even know he’d had a stroke. But for me? The lack of mental clarity makes me nauseous. My dad is his mind. I want him back.
I can’t help but feel likes it’s the beginning of the end and that thought sends me swirling into a deep dark pit of despair. I want to be wrong. I’ve never wanted to be wrong so badly in my life. I desperately want everything to return to normal. I don’t want a reason to be in denial.
Outwardly I’m remaining positive and hopeful. Inside I’m holding my head and screaming at the top of my lungs. I want my dad back.
Nothing is wrong.
No no no no no no no.