A Year Ago this Week, The Sister

Note: We introduce, the Sister

This is a post about remembering the week in my life to date that has been the worst. It’s 3am on January 30, 2012, and I am unable to sleep. Maybe it’s the fact that the 24-week old baby in my belly likes to be the most active in the middle of the night, maybe it’s because my husband is out of town and the only warmth I have at night comes from a 22 pound beagle. Those are probably just excuses, I know the real reason I cannot sleep—exactly one year ago, around 2 in the morning Mountain time, I got the phone call that I never believed would come so soon.

Several hours before I received this call, I spoke to my younger brother on the phone. I was riding a train back from Denver to the small cowboy town in western Colorado where we currently live. I had just spent the week in a mandatory, rigorous training for my job known as “boot camp.” I was mentally and emotionally exhausted and was riding the Amtrak in the middle of a stretch of 28 tunnels in the middle of the Rockies. I was listening to the conductor point out the natural beauty on the outside of the train and had no cell reception.

As the train rumbled toward civilization, somewhere around Vail, Colorado, my cell phone indicated that there was a voicemail. It was from my younger brother, and he sounded frantic. I called him back and he was angry that he hadn’t been able to get in touch with anyone, not with me, nor my older brother. He informed me that my father was very sick and had been hospitalized. When I listened to the symptoms and assessed the situation, I tried to be the stronger older sibling and assured him, “the doctors will take care of him, they’ll pump him full of antibiotics and he’ll be fine—don’t worry.” I didn’t hear from my brother again for about 12 hours.

Now what’s funny is I find myself having a ridiculous music memory about this time. On the train that day, I was listening to the soundtrack from Mamma Mia, a musical created solely to display the idiotic music of Abba in a “Story.” I think listening to that soundtrack at the time is excused based on the fact that throughout that week, I’d been beaten into a mental submission and worked harder and for more hours than any young lawyer should ever have to.

After I spoke to my brother that day, I told him to call my husband to keep him posted as I wasn’t sure how well my phone would work during the rest of the train trip. When I arrived home, I remember my husband and I went grocery shopping and I spent the evening reading cookbooks. I received word from my mother and brother that they were leaving the hospital, and that my father would be fine, and that he wanted them to bring him his laptop and some newspapers when they returned the next morning.



My phone rang around 2am. I was passed out and my husband, who typically can sleep through anything and who had to learn to sleep through mortars and other explosives when he was deployed, woke up and spoke to my brother first. He then woke me up and told me “Talk to your brother.” Our world came crashing down at that moment. I heard only the sobs of my younger brother over the phone, I can’t even remember my initial reaction…I remember calling my older brother shortly thereafter while my husband got on the phone with the airlines, trying to get me a flight as soon as possible. I boarded a plane less than 4 hours later, and my husband stayed behind to talk to my coworkers and to find someone to care for our dog. He finally joined me about 2 days later, after a vicious Midwest snowstorm delayed him from a timely arrival.

The following week was a blur. There were so many people to see and to talk to, people coming out of the woodwork. Our small town came together and brought our family food, alcohol, hugs and listening ears. The first few days I couldn’t eat or sleep, and I will never forget going to see what was now our “Father” and making arrangements at a funeral home with my older brother. My brothers, who are incredibly against Facebook, asked me to make a post with the details, and we received so many kind messages through the site in addition to all the in-person care received that week.

Family flew in from all over the country, and friends from all points of our lives surrounded us nonstop. To date, the last 2 weeks of January 2011 were the worst 2 weeks of my life, between “boot camp” and the following week at home. I returned to Colorado on Superbowl Sunday, and came down with a nasty flu in the Denver airport, which kept me out of work for another week.

I hadn’t seen my father since I got married in December 2009. That haunts me daily, and the guilt I feel is indescribable. I know he was proud of me for being a lawyer and for living my own life in a state 2000 miles away from where I grew up, and I know he wouldn’t hold it against me for not coming home more often. I miss him all the time, and wish that he and I had been able to spend more time together.

I try hard to remember the good times instead of feeling so guilty for not seeing him toward the far too soon and unexpected “end.” Because it was my first time really dealing with an incredibly sudden death of an immediate family member, I’m not sure if I’ve ever actually grieved or dealt with what happened. I cry randomly when someone or something makes me think of my father, or I will start arguments with my husband about something trivial so I don’t have to deal with what’s really hurting me. People claim that passing time helps with grief, so my hope is that I’ll start to feel better someday soon. While it makes me sad that my soon to be born child will never know her grandfather, I look forward to someday sharing the stories and memories with her and keeping him alive through new life. This will be a rough week.

5 comments on “A Year Ago this Week, The Sister

  1. Brittany says:

    Your dad was a great guy and I’m so sorry you had to lose him so early in all of your lives. I’ll be thinking of all of you this week and remembering him as well – I remember him always greeting me with “BRITTANY!” and a big grin if he came home while I was hanging out at your house as a kid – it always made me grin back. Big hugs to all of you.

  2. […] in a recent entry that this blog is about a year old. He mentioned that I (The Sister) had written for the blog more than once. One thing I’d like to do in 2013 is to contribute more to this blog. I don’t […]

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