13. Old Nightmares
I don’t want to fall into that hole again. I don’t want to feel that way again but as I stare at my dad in a hospital bed, there is nothing I can do to stop the darkness that settles over me.
There is nothing that is going to bring me back if something happens to him. I can feel it in my bones that nothing is going to be feel okay if anything happens to my dad. I know that some will say that death is part of life, that parents are not supposed to outlive their children but at the same time I can’t think about being an orphan.
I know others have had to go through this a lot younger than me but I don’t want to be an orphan at 21 years old.
I don’t know how others have done it, are they just better at managing their emotions? Was their relationship with their parents a healthier one? But then again what is considered healthy? I just know that I cannot lose my dad as well.
There is a nurse in the room as well, I don’t have a single clue what she is saying but I think she is doing her rounds. I don’t want to know what their schedule is like because I have been in the hospital so many times. It hasn’t been many times but one is too many in my opinion.
But my dad admitting me saved my life.
I’m not even sure that I ever told him what he did for me. We became much closer when my mum was killed but I don’t think I ever told him how thankful I am for the way he looked out for me. He had just lost the love of his life and he had to admit his son into a psychiatric ward because I didn’t want to live.
He was so strong, stronger than I could ever be. Now, it’s my turn to be there for him and make sure that I hold things down while he is unwell. I think Lily still might be here somewhere and she must be thinking that all of this is insane.
I try and focus my vision on the room I’m in, I don’t know how long the nurse has been gone for but I find that I won’t have to search for Lily because she is in a chair right behind me.
“I was just about to go and look for you.” I speak and even to my own ears it sounds as though this is the first time that I have spoken in years.
“Hey there, I forgot what your voice sounded like.” She smiles and comes to stand by my side, looping her arms through mine and leaning against me. It’s strange how she is the one physically leaning on me and yet it feels like I am the one that is leaning on her in all other ways.
“You don’t have to stay around for this, I know it can be really depressing.” I say while glancing at my dad, another piece of my heart breaking when I see him in that hospital bed with his eyes closed, too still for anyone to guess there is life still inside him.
“I’m here for you in whatever way I can be, I’m not going to leave you.” She says and wraps her arms around my torso, I feel a small weight drop from my shoulders as her support is more than I could have hoped.
Until a few weeks ago I wasn’t even sure that she wanted to go on a proper date with me and yet here she is, having just met my friends but she is staying. She is in a small hospital room, helping me deal with something she knows nothing about. I’m such a hypocrite for wanting and pushing her to open up to me when I haven’t told her about my darkest times.
“Thank you.” I whisper because it seems that is all I can push out right now.
“He’s going to be okay Jules, if you’re anything like him then I know he’s going to fight to the end.” She squeezes me and I know she is trying to make me feel better, saying anything that sounds remotely positive at such a dark time. I don’t know if it’s working in convincing me but it’s certainly nice to hear.
“My dad is much stronger than I could ever with to be.” I say with something stuck in my throat. I can’t imagine what it has been like for him to be constantly strong and reliable. When does he get to break down? Who does he have to lean on?
“I don’t believe that but I look forward to getting to meet him properly.” She smiles up at me and there is a small spark of happiness that I have spoken to him a few times about Lily and I hope he does get to meet her properly.
I know many people have heart attacks, multiple even, and they live many decades after but when you’re the one in that situation you realise just how serious these things are. A lot of medical conditions we take as easy because they are common but there is suffering everywhere it seems when it’s medical.
“I’m going to stay here tonight, it’s okay if you need to go home to study.” I say as I move towards the small couch in the corner of the room. It would barely fit Lily and I, unless she were to be sitting half on top of me.
Since we both rushed here, we only have our phones with us, no chargers or anything to eat or read. I’m not sure what I am going to be doing for the next god knows how many hours if dad doesn’t wake up.
“I’m going to go and grab us a few things if we’re going to stay here tonight.” She smiles and kisses me briefly; she presses her lips against mine and cups my face as she gently caresses me before pushing back and leaving with a few words over her shoulder.
I kind of wish that the room was silent but this is a hospital so there is no such thing. I see maybe half a dozen people walking past the door, I keep it open just in case I see one of the nurses or the doctor assigned to my dad’s care. At the same time, I want to spend all of my time on my phone so time goes by quicker but at the same time there is so much buzzing through my head that I’m not sure I can focus on the screen long enough to actually read or watch anything.
I hang my head between my legs as it feels too heavy to carry. The irony is not lost on me that my head is pounding with one of the worst headaches of my life while I’m in a hospital but I’m not able to ask for any pain medication. I have no idea how much time passes but I nearly jump out of the chair when I hear one of the nurses come back in even though she is doing her best to be quiet.
“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to disturb you sir.” The nurse smiles at me and I have no idea what my response to her is.
“Jules, where am I?” comes a gruff voice from the bed and I am out of the couch faster than I have ever moved in my life.
“You’re in the hospital dad, how do you feel?” I ask even though I know he must be feeling like crap.
“I feel like I have run a marathon, I’m so tired.” He replies quietly and even though he is speaking, he has yet to open his eyes.
“That is completely normal sir, people often feel tired after suffering a heart attack.” The nurse reassures him but I know he must have so many questions. My parents have always taken pride in living a balanced life, they work out frequently and eat well most of the time but they also enjoyed life and everything it had to offer.
It still hurts physically that something so rare was taken from both of us.
“He has always been very healthy; how can he have a heart attack so young?” I ask because he is only 47 and as far as I know we have no family history of heart disease.
“Sadly, we can never be certain who and why someone might experience a heart attack.” The nurse has that half smile on her face when they have to give patients and their family bad news. “We are going to run a full blood screen to see if there was anything physical that caused this but for now you just need to rest sir.” She smiles a little wider now and it doesn’t fill me with hope that the nurse looks relieved that my dad is awake and talking.
“Maybe this time off work is going to do me some good, it might even get my son to come and stay with me for longer than a couple hours.” He jokes and it’s another weight that is lifted off my shoulders because if he is joking like this then at least something is right.
“You’re the one who wants me to enjoy my life while I’m young.” I roll my eyes and for a second, I feel like a teenager being embarrassed by his dad and once in a while it’s nice to feel like that again. I didn’t get to finish my teenage years as I was 16 when my mum was killed, that kind of ruins the whole experience.
“I met your mum when I was 21.” He smiles and opens his eyes for the first time, they have a shine in them that I haven’t seen in a long time.
“But I thought that you guys met when you were 23?” I ask because that is the story I know and the one they used to tell me even when I didn’t want to listen.
“I first saw her when I was 21 and was working at the same university she was studying at.” Something inside me melts at the soft look on his face as he closes his eyes to remember. I know it’s not manly to melt but I have always idolised my parent’s relationship. For them it was always more than just having a child and staying together, I believe they had that real love that everyone ultimately wants to find.
“So, you stalked her 2 years before asking her out?” I ask and pull the chair so I am sitting next to his bed. When I was younger, I remember thinking that it was embarrassing to listen to them talk about their life before me, because often as children we fail to remember that they had lives before they had children.
“I spent a year admiring her from afar before bumping into her on purpose, we were friend for a few months before I grew the balls to ask her out for a picnic.” He chuckles a little and so does the nurse as she goes into the next room to continue her rounds.
“You’ve never taken me on a picnic Jules, your dad is more romantic than you.” I hear a happy voice come from the doorway and just like earlier today I am so happy to Lily. I know that I am relying on her way too much, my feelings are moving at lightning speed and she is probably only here because she feels obligated to be.
“Is this the famous Lily I have heard so much about?” Asks dad as he tries to turn so, he can face her properly and I can see instantly they have formed some kind of bond. I feel no tension in the air apart from my own building by the second.
“I like being known as the famous Lily, I brought snacks and technology.” She smiles and puts down the multiple bags she dragged along with her. I thought she was only going to bring a charger and some takeaway but looks like she is set trying to make a good first impression. But, then again she didn’t know that my dad had woken up so all of this must have been for her to look after me.