Week Forty Three - A Day in The Life - Sudden Thunderstorm
Paul’s father passed away this past weekend. Untimely. Unexpectedly. I still can’t believe this happened. It was totally sudden. He was well the day before. Went to bed at night as usual, but failed to wake up the next morning. Just like that. Even as I write these words, I can’t believe them, but they are true.
At 6:45 am last Sunday morning we heard the phone ringing. Paul and I were totally asleep and neither of us wanted to get out of our dreams and answer the phone. We thought it must be someone with the wrong number. But then Paul decided to answer, “just in case,” he said. And good that he did. At the other end of the line was his mother, crying hysterically so loud that I could hear her from ten feet away. She was so agitated that at first Paul couldn’t even understand what she was trying to say. Paul kept telling her, “Mom, could you please calm down. I can’t understand you,” but she just couldn’t help it. I wonder what I would have done had I been in her place.
Finally Paul understood what she was trying to say. His face turned white like a sheet. Now it was his turn to be unable to speak. He just stood there, holding the phone and saying nothing, while his mother continued to cry and scream in his ear.
I jumped out of bed and went to him, grabbed the phone from his hand – he didn’t offer any resistance – and asked his mother to tell me what happened. She kept repeating “dad is dead, dad is dead, dad is dead” as though she was trying to convince herself of this reality. I asked her if she had called 911. She said the paramedics had just left, because there was nothing they could do to resuscitate him. I could only say, “We will be there right away” and hung up.
I looked at Paul. He was still in the same position. Had not moved. Was not crying. Didn’t even seem to have fully registered what he had just heard. I hugged him and said: “Let’s put some clothes on and go over there. Your mother needs us.” I could see Paul was resisting, but he knew he had to face what was going on. We got dressed like two robots, each absorbed in our own thoughts, each trying to grasp and come to terms with the enormity of this event, but neither of us was able to do so. I drove because Paul was too much in shock to pay any attention to anything. On the way to Paul’s parents’ house, I called my parents, woke them up in turn and briefly told them what happened. They told me they would meet us at Paul’s house. I was glad to my mother for not asking me her usual 101 questions, as I wouldn’t have been able to answer any of them.
As I was driving, I was trying to think about what one does in these kinds of situations. I had never had anyone close to me die, so I had no idea what are the things that one is supposed to attend to. It felt like a part of me was trying to grasp what happened, and another part was watching from the outside. This second part felt no feelings, just observing and thinking. I looked at Paul. He was staring at the road in front of him, without saying a word.
For a moment I thought our entire world the way we knew it up to that point was completely gone. I even thought, “This is one of those decisive moments that will forever divide our lives in before and after Paul’s father’s death.”
Here we were, facing something completely foreign and scary. I reached out for Paul’s hand and squeezed very hard. He did the same in response.