It was a Sunday morning in November, I had just started making pancakes for breakfast when the phone rang. My now ex-husband answered the phone, and he walked into the kitchen with this solemn look on his face and told me I needed to sit down. Some of this is still a blur, I do not remember what time it was, or speaking to anyone on that phone call, but he told me it was my dad’s girlfriend calling to tell us that he had died that morning.
I honestly do not remember what happened next except tears and tissues and composing myself enough to gather a list of numbers I had to call, and trust me those phone calls are very difficult to make. I aged a few years that morning, taking deep breaths, trying to be the strong one. How do I tell my grandfather, his father? How do I tell his brothers? More importantly how do I tell my sister? Things you aren’t prepared for at 29, things no one can prepare you for. Phone calls you never thought you’d have to make – ever.
I could go on and tell you how the rest of the day went, how it felt as if the day went on forever and how the next three days is somewhat a blur. Family coming, flooding of sympathy, picking out the flowers, the casket, the service – those were decisions I had to make along with my sister. I did lean on my ex a lot for this, and I must thank him for being there. My father’s cousins, along with his friends and mine, were a huge support too. It was then I realized who some of my true friends are. The wake seemed to blend into both sessions, the line was endless, it was out the door on a chilly November night. I don’t think I ever sat down. The support I had from family and friends really helped me through this.
While everything else was going on, I had also been blindsided by my dad’s girlfriend who tried to say she was the ‘fiance’ so her name would mean something in the obituary. She also produced a ring. If my Dad was engaged he would have told us. That was just the beginning of a very long drawn out legal battle my sister and I went through with her for almost two years. I never want to see her again. Had I been a stronger person as I am now when this happened I would have shut her out completely.
I was made Executor of my Dad’s estate, along with that came responsibility. In hindsight I should have taken the time off from work to do this properly and not run myself to the ground like I did, although it did keep me busy and kept my mind occupied. I should have not included my dad’s girlfriend with me at all during this process before it got ‘legal’, I should have never trusted her. Decisions some of us should not have to make at 29, yet I did with the help of my sister. We became each other’s rock during this and we still are.
One of the longest weeks of my life, one of the saddest Thanksgivings and Christmas’ I’ve ever spent, not a day goes by when I don’t think about him. For months I would sit on the couch in the living room and just cry, I wanted to know why he was taken from us so young, without warning. I still want to know why. There are a lot of unanswered questions, some timelines that do not add up, conversations best left to be had with the Scibetta family around the dinner table. Every month I went to the cemetery, it made me feel better to visit him and my grandmother and my Uncle. I spent some time there, I talked and cried and said ‘goodbye’. It was a way for me to cope and now I go twice a year on his birthday and the day he passed away.
There were months afterwards he would appear to me in dreams, as if he was trying to tell me something. I’m not sure when those stopped but occasionally he’ll make an appearance.
I didn’t quite come to terms with everything until after I was separated and started counseling (yes I went to counseling) and I learned a lot. I actually got some closure with a few things but never an answer to ‘why’. While we were separated my now ex husband said he should have sent me to counseling earlier to deal with losing my father, had that have helped me then, probably not. I was so consumed with work, finishing my second degree, then the legal battle, I didn’t have time to think about anything else. Not everyone reacts the same way, we all don’t suffer at the same time. We will eventually deal with it at our own pace except when it starts to affect our health, our work and our life and those around us, at that time you need to seek professional help.
I was not crazy for going to counseling, I needed to talk to someone other than my now ex-husband, my sister, my friends who have lost a parent. I need to talk to someone from the outside, without judgment. I’m glad I did that, and yes maybe I should have gone sooner than 3 years after the fact, but I went.
Four years later, I made pancakes. At the time they were plain pancakes, only now when I make them they have added ingredients (chocolate chips, bananas, pureed apple, pumpkin spice). I don’t think about the phone ringing on a Sunday morning while I’m making breakfast anymore.
For those of you who have ever lost a parent I know its not easy but we do get stronger and we have to lean on those close to us. Eventually your fb posts aren’t going to get you the closure you need, go seek professional help. You do not need to sign up for a year, just a session, just talk it out with someone else, you’ll learn an awful lot about yourself and the situation and how to deal. I’d much rather see my friends go talk to a professional than to hit the bottle, that’s one coping mechanism I never went to.
So today Dad I visit your grave with Grandpa, and call my sister who will Skype with your two grandkids, Matthew and Madeleine with their Great Grandpa. I know you’re proud of us, you’re always watching over us and your memory lives on in each of us. (Matthew’s a lefty just like you!)