My parents divorced when I was 1 year old, after 13 years of marriage. Throughout my life, they dated on and off. When I was 28 years old, 7 1/2 years ago, they remarried. The two of them have always had an odd relationship, however, it works for them. Dad has always kept his own apartment. He spends days with my mom, but on occasion goes home at night or when he’s sick he heads home to his place. After living separate for 26 years, both of them have always been fine with their set up as is. It works for them and they’re happy and in love. It’s a great thing for them and works well.
May 24th, my father wasn’t feeling good. He felt like he was getting a cold so he went home. That next day, dad called mom and said he felt “off” and was going to stay home. He was active on Facebook and talked to my mom and us kids. Nothing out of the ordinary. Thursday, I talked to my mom and she said that hadn’t heard from dad but it wasn’t anything strange. She was worried about him but knew if she called, he’d be upset about it. So, she didn’t call him because he wasn’t feeling well and knew that this was typical for him to go home and sleep it off when sick. It’s all dad would do.
The next day, Friday May 27th, after not hearing from him on Thursday mom called him. No answer. He didn’t get in touch with anyone all day. I had a bad feeling about things, in my gut I knew something wasn’t right. I just knew. At 5:30, my mom was going there and check on him with my aunt.
I went to McDonald’s with my kids for dinner as a distraction. I didn’t hear from my mom by 6:30 so I drove by dad’s apartment.
When I drove by, I saw two police officers and my mom’s vehicle. I knew. How could I not know. We pulled in. I approached the police officers….
Are you here for someone in the apartments?
Are you here for Larry #####?
Is he ok?
I’m sorry ma’am, he’s deceased.
Those words. “He’s deceased.” I can’t even process those words.
I reacted, but looking back it feels like I was outside of myself, watching my reaction. I ran up the stairs, where my mom was. I ran down to my boys and my legs gave out on me. I couldn’t stand. I couldn’t breathe. I just couldn’t.
I sent my fiance’ home with our children and stayed with my mom.
For two hours we sat and just cried and couldn’t talk. We were in the apartment where dad passed. The apartment where dad was. Where he was in bed, gone, waiting for the funeral home to come.
How I sat there for two hours…. I don’t know. I have no idea.
When the funeral home came, we were asked to leave the apartment which was fine, we did not want to be there. Afterwards, we couldn’t go into the apartment. The smell was horrific.
The next day, we had to immediately go to plan the funeral. Talk about fresh. We had to go to the funeral home, 4 of us kids and my mother and dad’s sister to plan out my father’s funeral. Poems, casket, grave liners, obituary. I don’t know how we did it, but we did. All of us, together, we did this for dad, for mom who so badly needed her children with her.
When that was done, we had to face the apartment. Dad had been gone for 2 days when mom found him, two days. What she walked into was horrific. She went to his bedroom and saw him. 2 days of dad being gone, no air conditioning on in an upstairs apartment with 100 degree heat. She knew he was gone because of what she saw with his body.
The things you don’t think of are that there is bodily fluids, blood, etc that were all on his bed. A bed that was causing a stench so bad. A bed that looked like a murder scene once dad had been removed. A bed that had to be removed but none of us children or mom were strong enough to do the job.
We had a guardian angel step up. A neighbor man and woman that cared for dad so much that they removed the bed and hid the mattress so we didn’t have to face such a gruesome scene. We couldn’t have gotten into that apartment without them. In our time of need, they were there, we’ll be forever grateful!
Once in the apartment, we had to find paperwork for dad’s funeral. We sifted through things and found precious keepsakes that meant the world to us. I found dad’s army uniform from Vietnam that I will treasure forever. My brother has his union card that means the world to him as he’s a union man himself. My sister took a hankerchief that dad always had with him. Mom got dad’s watch. My other brother has another watch that was broken that he was going to fix to wear as a reminder of dad.
All small things that mean the world to us.
The next week before the funeral, we spent time rotating shifts with mom and cleaning through dad’s apartment, getting what we could out as we knew we’d have to deal with emptying the apartment.
While I was absent at home, my fiance’ Jim was holding down the fort. He happily stepped up and took care of the children so I could be where I needed to be with my family.
My absence stopped me from seeing what was brewing at home, signs of what was to come.
In the midst of my father’s death, Jim was doing great with the children. He was entertaining them along with my nieces and nephews. He was happily playing with them and having fun to help us all through a hard time.
A few days before dad’s funeral, I noticed some odd behaviors with Jim. He had started an antidepressant 5 weeks prior and he seemed drunk almost. Happy but too happy. Hugging everyone, crying alot, really emotional. During the hardest time of my life, he was crumbling and I was scared.
On the day of dad’s funeral, Jim stopped his antidepressant. This was nothing odd as he’s always tried Zoloft (a different antidepressant) and stopped due to side effects with no issues. Yet this time, there were issues to come. We had no idea.
At dad’s funeral, Jim occupied the boys for me. He seemed sad, but it was a funeral, that’s what happens. While I was talking to someone, I heard Jim scream “Back off!” to my brother in law. Throughout the funeral, he was talking in circles, had my boys crying, and was all over the place. We made it through the burial and I sent him home with the kids. He had been great with the boys so there was no real concern there with them since he was capable of playing with them and handling them.
That evening, we went to bed. He didn’t remember the day and that worried me. The next morning he was all over. He was talking in circles. That night, he went to bed when I did then woke up at 11:30 and I heard him leave with the dog. At midnight, my brother called me saying that Jim was there. My mom called immediately after but set the phone down and I heard Jim say that my dog was his spirit animal. I hung up. I called my mom back and she calmly said not to worry that it would be fine and she would handle it. Jim came home at 1am after talking to my mom about religion. The next two days were full of religious obsession from a man who never has had a strong faith in God. He was talking in circles about life and God, making no sense.
The next night, he again went to my mothers at 11 while I slept. He then woke me up Sunday morning by pulling my rings off me. He had put all my laundry on the fence to “wash” by the rain that was coming. He was removing all my things from the house, talking about serving the servants and God’s will. It was extremely bizarre and scary.
That evening, I called his doctor. She stated it was caused by the medicine and abruptly stopping, however, she did not feel he was needed to be seen until Monday. In fact, she said “Keep him safe, bring him in Monday and we’ll handle it and give him medicine.” I decided to take him to the ER.
That day, we spent all day in the ER. Jim agreed to go to an inpatient, voluntary center where they’d treat him and get him stabilized to come home. I accepted that and went home to my boys. The next morning at work, I got a call that Jim was gone. They claim he left at 8am, however, I know better. I knew his witching hour was 11:00-11:30 and mania kicked in so I am positive he left at that time.
When I got the call that he was gone, I freaked. I signed my son out of school, changed his records so only I could pick him up that last week of school. I took the kids to my mom’s, instructed them to lock deadbolts and do not let anyone but me take those children.
Then the reality settled in, Jim was gone and he was not okay. He was hallucinating, delusional, and in a bad state of mind. I called the police, they guided me into getting a petition from the court to have him picked up and taken to the ER when he was found. I searched and searched for him but could not find him anywhere. I finally at 7:30 went to get my boys and get them home to bed. As I was leaving my mom’s to take them home, I got a call from him that he was at a high school half an hour away and wanted to come home.
I left my mom’s house and headed out to get him. The kids and I got him home and he was very delusional, very agitated, and not OK. I got him into the shower and called my mom to come over. I sent my kids into their room with Netflix and instructions to stay there. I then called 911 and told them I had a pick up order in effect and they needed to come get him. I lucked out, he got out of the shower and went outside to smoke. My mom came and then the cops came while he was outside and they took him to the ER.
That night, I could finally sleep easy knowing he was in a locked room, secure, cameras on him and security. He was going nowhere. My boys and I were safe and he would be OK too.
The next morning, he was taken to an inpatient psychiatric center. He was there for 8 days all total. Therapy, anti-psychotics, mood stabilizers. It took a bit but he got balanced out. I juggled working part time, babysitters, and visiting him the whole time. I was spent (still am!). The kids cried for daddy each day. I cried for my daddy and theirs each day. I don’t know how I made it through.
Eventually after 8 days, Jim was released.
He’s been home 2 weeks almost. It’s hard. He has a diagnosis of bipolar/manic. I don’t know if he really is bipolar or if this was a reaction to abruptly stopping his antidepressant or both. He is on anti-psychotics and a bipolar med. Each day is a battle, not sure what we’re going to get. He can’t take antidepressants, which would be something most people would take and help so much but given his adverse reaction, he can’t take them which will make his recovery even longer.
When I think it’s a good day, it goes terribly wrong.
In the midst of this all, I have to work. I can’t sleep well. My emotions are so high.
I miss my dad, so badly.
My mother is amazing. She’s my strength through this all. She watched my kids and helped me while mourning my dad. I couldn’t have done this without her.
I had friends step up and offer help. I had a freakin’ army around me helping – my kids friend’s parents, coworkers, my mom, my grandma, and my siblings, as well as my fiance’s mom. They are the reason I made it through.
Yet I still feel very alone, I felt alone then and feel alone now.
Everything I knew in my world just crashed and shattered into a million pieces around me.
My dad, I miss him so much. I wish he were here. He was such a help to me in so many ways and now he’s gone. He wasn’t ill, felt sick, but wasn’t deathly sick. I pieced together his last day. He went to the bank, to get cold medicine, and then to get takeout and then was home and awake until about 9:30. It appears he went to bed and passed in the early morning the next day. That brings me comfort. He didn’t suffer. I can find peace in that.
Yet I’m selfish. I want him back. I miss him. I’m mad that my kids have to grow up without him. Mad that when I do get married, he won’t be there. I feel cheated. He shouldn’t have had to go. It was too soon. I just want to tell him I love him. I want to hear his voice one last time, give him a hug. Just see him.
I want him here. I want his support as I endure this incredibly hard time in my life with Jim. I want dad’s word of advice, his input, just to have him here for me. I’m selfish, I don’t care. I just want him back.
And Jim… I want him back too.
He’s not himself, weird quirky things. I don’t know if he’s bipolar, if he is, I’m worried it’s gonna fall apart again. I don’t want to live with this stress, yet after 14 years, I don’t want to give up. I don’t want my kids to suffer through this. I know with meds, he can live a normal life again, but I’m scared of this happening again. I’m scared that it won’t ever be normal again. I see him, but then right when I think it’s good, it falls apart.
Mental health issues are something he cannot help. This isn’t his fault. I’m not mad.
I’m just overwhelmed.
Life as I knew it has changed, forever.
Things are so different and I don’t know how or if we can fine normalcy again. How do we? Can we? Will it ever get better?
I don’t know right now.
I don’t know much of anything, except my heart has felt so much hurt lately, it’s a wonder I’m still going. I’m tired. Yes, I know I’m strong but I’m so so tired.
I miss the normalcy we used to have.
I miss my dad.
I’m grieving. Grieving my father. The life I lost with him in it. The life my family lost when Jim had a breakdown. The dad my kids knew and loved. The man I knew and loved. Will he come back? Dad’s not coming back, I know this. But I don’t want to lose the Jim that I knew and loved in additional to losing my father.
Everything is hard.
Life is hard.
All that’s left to do is pick up the pieces and hope we can make them fit