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Blog

Live-Tweeting My Father's Death

Amber

We got a call last Wednesday night. My father was in the ICU and wasn't expected to last much longer. We should get there as soon as possible. So the next morning, my brother, my mom and I drove seven hours south to Bishop, California. Walking into a hospital room where your formerly bright and vibrant father is lying in pain, attached to coldly beeping machines is...hard. Because I feel more grounded when I write down my thoughts, I started putting them on Twitter. Turns out, Twitter is a perfect medium for recording your last five days with your father. 140 characters allows you to record one thought, without being intimidated by acres of blank space waiting to be filled with something that's supposed to be properly dignified and profound, when all you have is the fact that you just spilled coffee all over the brand-new floor of the three-week old hospital.

Turns out, 140 characters also captures a whole lot of love.

Love for and from my father, love from Twitter, love for the rest of our family. I honestly feel that onslaught of love and support from those lovely souls on the internet helped me open up so that I was better able to love my father. It was a circular triptych of emotion that carried me through those five days in Bishop as my father slipped further and further away.

In a strange way, I want to go back to that time in Bishop - as hard as it was. Because I've never felt more loved or more loving in my life. I'm glad I was able to share that with my father, in our last few days together. So here are the tweets. Raw, unedited, and all in one place so I can visit it any time I want to feel that love again.

Live-Tweeting My Father's Death

Today needs a superhero cape. I will make one out of a red blanket - extra powers and extra fleeciness.

So basically everything about tonight is heartbreaking. Except my brother's rat dance. That's still pretty awesome.

Medical directive overturned by unanimous family consent. Morphine at the ready. All right, Great Beyond. Let's get this party started.

Dad calmed down when I sat down and held his hand. He even smiled when Matthew did a little jig. All is peaceful as we wait.

Hour nine of the Death Vigil and we've started making water balloons out of surgical gloves.

My brother took it upon himself to fill out the whiteboard in dad's hospital room. He graciously offered the social worker the role of Dr. Fuzzy.

Walking into the closed hospital through the ER, a male nurse I've never seen before says, "Oh, you must be Mr Adrian's daughter." Infamous?

Now that the drugs have stopped and people aren't prodding him every hour, Dad's sense of humor is coming back. His puns: as bad as ever.

My one rant: Absurd that we have the death penalty but we can't help along someone we love who desperately wants out of a broken body.

Calling the funeral director from my Dad's hospital room while he snores peacefully feels oh-so-wrong. And yet...here we are.

Um, so I guess I'm live tweeting my Dad's death? I just find it strangely comforting. Heart, mysterious ways, etc.

My dad wanted a hug - was super distressed when he couldn't lift his arms to hug me back. Heart, meet new crack.

Hard to see my vibrant, joking, super-smart Dad like this. But it's also okay. He's still that guy and he's still in there. Somewhere.

Learning - slowly, slowly - to open up and love when I feel scared, rather than curl up like a threatened porcupine.

Always figured I'd be spoon-feeding a petulant infant before spoon-feeding my Dad. Life enjoys tossing my plans up in the air like confetti.

Bishop is tiny town with Old West-style store fronts and snow-capped mountain ranges. There are worse places to take your last breath.

Throwing paper airplanes over dad's bed and into the hall. Almost hit a nurse.

Singing Beethoven's Fifth and dancing around the bed Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion-style. I should drink less coffee.

My brother grabbed my mom's romance novel and started giving it a dramatic reenactment. Solid gold.

Dad always made the Thanksgiving turkey. Brined in booze and stuffed with cornbread and fresh herbs. I never got the recipe. Damn it.

Emotionally manipulative country song about fathers playing. The world really wants me to break down in this coffee shop.

Brother: "Hey! Instead of going to the mortuary, let's go to the taxidermist!" Mom: "YOU ARE NOT GOING TO TAXIDERMY YOUR FATHER."

Ten minutes later: "How much does taxidermy cost?" "NO."

Matthew told dad that he saw a cow this morning. Dad mooed.

Dad's singing. So...the morphine works.

Never in my life have I wanted a tattoo. But I woke up at my father's bed side thinking that if I ever got one, it would say "Yes."

"I'm excited for you, Dad. You're about to go on an adventure." Boom. My brother nails it.

The wind is picking up and leaves are scattering. This autumn has been full of storms - and another one is coming.

My brother and I both want to try Dad's sweet morphine drip. Sadly, this is not hospital-approved procedure.

Boat wars and roof-top sleepovers and bacon: Love hearing from middle and high school friends with memories of my dad.

This is a weirdly happy time.

"Isn't it great having a dad like me?" "Yeah, Dad. It is."

Playing dad's favorite songs on my laptop. Like to think the morphine haze makes it sound like John Coltrane playing Carnegie Hall.

When the nurses come in to reposition him, the whole family scuttles down the hall to escape the yells of pain. #cowards

Dad's getting delusional. Thinks he needs to get up and get dressed. Keep telling him it's his day off, he can just relax and hang with us.

"You have such a nice family.""It's our family, Dad." "But you have so many great people w you." I like to think he's talking about Twitter.

"We're lucky." "Yeah, we are." "In so many ways." I've never seen my Dad cry before.

Dad loves Calvin and Hobbes. So I read him this.

Pro tip: When you're on your death bed, you get anything you want.

At the JC Penny on Main St buying clean clothes because I didn't have time to do laundry between New York and Death Watch 2012.

Waiting for your Dad's body to disintegrate around him is harder work than you might think. I'm exhausted.

Dad keeps turning to me and saying, "Let's go." You can go any time you want, Dad. You just have to leave your body behind.

Work to be done. Hard to live in a hotel indefinitely. Dad may need us to leave in order to let himself go. Still, a bitch of a decision.

"A house came out of the sky and surrounded our house. How is that possible? It doesn't make sense." "It doesn't have to make sense, Dad."

Dad read The Hobbit to me when I was 3 years old. Mom thought he was crazy. Years later, though I never read it myself, I knew the story.

Dad always called me super kid. Like I was the superhero of children. That was the last thing he called me.

Hard to walk out the hospital door, knowing he's still alive. And knowing that's probably the last time I'll ever see him.

Everything feels surreal. The colors are too bright, sounds are a roar, and everyone keeps wishing me a good day.

My dad's things are strewn all over the living room, waiting for sorting and Goodwill. Time to hide out in another part of the house.

On the up side, now I have a Kindle and my brother's girlfriend has a car.

I always wondered what to do when someone was having a rough time. Wondered if words and thoughts were enough. Yes. More than enough.

I just opened the microwave and found the popcorn I was making when we got the call from the hospital.

Whenever I feel sad about someone - missing my dad or a friend or an ex - I focus on how much I love them. Works every time.

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As of tonight, November 21st, the evening of Thanksgiving, my dad was still alive. Part of me is heartbroken not to be there with him when he passes, but the rest of me knows we did the right thing - for us and for him.

And I truly believe that you can express love to someone whether you're standing there holding their hand or halfway across the globe. Or separated by whatever stands between us and those we loved who have gone on. Love knows no boundaries.

---

{Edit} Dad passed away on Friday night. I got the news while drinking pumpkin bourbon milkshakes with Drea and Amy and they graciously led me into another room and let me blubber all over them and it was exactly what I needed. Thanks, guys.

As a longtime family friend later texted me, Dad would've thought the pumpkin bourbon milkshake a perfect accompaniment to his passing. He was fond of going all out, especially where fattening beverages are concerned.

photo (96)

Rest in peace, Dad. We love you.