“As it’s been four years and I have been so harshly judged, I think it’s finally the right time to tell what happened during this awful, awful time. My entire family’s life completely changed on September 19, 2016. No warning, no nothing. In a split second, everything I knew was gone. POOF. Nothing. It was like the universe told us to start over, from the bottom up. But let’s go back.
My dad, contrary to what everyone believes, was not sick in any way at all. Being the youngest in my family gave me the advantage of being home and the ability to go to appointments with my parents. It wasn’t until 2016 he was told he had to use a CPAP machine before he gained any sort of significant issues. He, unfortunately, failed to properly clean the machine and was not educated on how to use it (this, both my mom and I, came to realize far too late). He was in the hospital multiple times from April-August, off and on, and sometimes during his stays the doctors would never see him (this bothered everyone and we tried to speak to people, but only were ignored). Then, on September 16, my father complained something was wrong and asked to be driven to the ER. My mom went ahead and took him.
Our local ER told him and my mom nothing was wrong, and they made an appointment to have him seen the next day at his physician’s office. So, they came home like instructed. On September 17, the doctor saw my father and thought nothing looked off, but would admit him to the hospital just to run tests. We spent the weekend with him. Then, on the 18th, my mom was scheduled to go into work early. We agreed it would be best if we just went that evening, but she brought him the paper before she left. All day I kept having a weird feeling—like maybe I should call and ask him, ‘How are you?’ but I had a really important book project due in order to graduate. So, I just put it off as something else.
At about 3:30 p.m. that evening, after about 30 minutes, I looked down to see the group chat my ‘siblings’ created (there’s so many of us we needed a group chat), and it read, ‘In about 15 minutes they will be airlifting dad to Hutchinson.’ I thought it was weird, because I never got a call from my mom saying to meet her at the hospital or from any of my siblings saying dad had gone significantly downhill. I called my mom and she thought I was talking about someone else. This led us to rushing directly from her getting off work to the hospital, knowing nothing. When we got there he was awake and anxious (he was so persistent about not showing he was scared, even in this situation). The hospital was nice enough to wait for the rest of my siblings (I’m the youngest of nine), and for my nieces and nephews to get there to say goodbye before he left.
While he was preparing for the helicopter ride, the EMTs came in and introduced themselves. His main doctor told us we need to exit the room so they could give him some medication to make him more comfortable while flying. This was when everything went downhill, and FAST. During the time they originally asked us to step out, I was standing closest to the door and overheard, ‘OMG!! It’s not working. Just keep giving him more. One more dose. Another,’ but at the time I didn’t think anything of it. (From what we have been told, this medication should have never been given to him due to the issues he was having with his lungs. It’s very much known in the medical world for stopping people from breathing.)
We then were allowed back in the room to say goodbye, and it was agreed most of us (me and my mom included) would head up to where my dad was the following morning, because the hospital assured us he was fine and we would just be wasting our gas to go back and forth (we live about an hour and a half away from this town). My mom also found out my dad had requested to go to different hospital, but his doctor told him no, he was going here and that was that. My father just didn’t want to be treated like he was at his previous visit to this hospital (where he was there for one week but no doctor ever saw him). At about 7 p.m. we all said goodbye, and dad told me, ‘See ya later,’ waved, and was wheeled out.
Just as he gets to the helicopter, we all turn to hear yelling and a group of people running out to the helicopter. He had coded. They had come back to the ER and start to revive him. A nurse came over and told my mom it would be better if those who wanted to be with him followed once they stabilized him. He might not even make the trip to other hospital. At that moment, I knew I needed to do something I never thought I’d was going to—contact my ‘sister’ with who I’d had a fallout with and none of my other siblings had contact with, due to how toxic she was. I told her she needed to come. I still, to this day four years later, question if it was the right move, due how she and her daughter acted and treated everyone.
My mom knew she needed to call her and tell her to get to us instead of the other hospital, otherwise she might not see our dad. Her daughter answered and was just rude. That was the last time we talked to them. Eventually they were able to stabilize him enough to transport him to the bigger hospital. Sometime early morning, they came and told us there was nothing more they could do and my mom needed to make a decision. She couldn’t, so she told us kids to sit down and make it with her. Everyone decided what would be best, and after it was like I just shut down. I can’t explain it, but this switch in me just turned off. I don’t remember much after.
Fast forward to the day of the Rosary and this ‘sister’ comes over. Since we had issues I kinda just stayed away. She, her daughter, and her friend stayed all evening—from like 3 p.m. until 10 minutes before the Rosary. She asked my mom, ‘When can we get dad’s truck? Oh yeah, and since you didn’t put these flowers in the funeral, here are some.’ When my mom was like, ‘Huh? What do you mean?’ My ‘sister’ said, ‘Just that. When do I come for the truck?’ My mom was like, ‘Never.’ They went back and forth before she was kicked out. After that she was mad, and during the blessing of the Rosary she pushed me. Later, we found out she was talking extremely badly and being rude during the Rosary. After the funeral we found text messages sent to my dad’s phone from her the day our dad passed away, asking if she could have the truck that day. After the funeral, nobody but me really heard from her (I got about two texts, but have since cut ties due to toxicity).
After my dad’s death and funeral I still was in off-mode. I just couldn’t adjust. It just didn’t register. I was depressed, my anxiety heightened, and I started having panic attacks. I stopped going to school. I couldn’t stand people stopping me in the hallways and telling me, ‘I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m praying for you. Your dad was such a good man.’ I knew they meant well, but it hurt—as well as the looks from my classmates. I couldn’t do it. I was suffocating and I knew it. I was drifting back into the dark zone I used to be in back when I was younger. The zone I spent so much time digging myself out of. Then there was everyone in my ear: ‘Go back to school.’ ‘You really need to try harder, this just isn’t cutting it.’ I was drowning in my own emotions and nobody could see it. Everyone pushing me was making my mental breakdown even worse.
At the time, I didn’t know I was healing—but slowly. Nobody once sat down or anything to check on me, but everyone was sure there to tell me what they wanted. I had family come to my home, personally, to tell me I wasn’t moving quickly enough for them. I had people start private conversations just to talk about me and say, ‘She’s too hormonal, she’s probably got too many regrets and she needs to stop with the K-pop stuff, it’s not doing anything for her.’ And I did try. After about one month of not going to school, I did attempt to make an effort after my mom had a private discussion with the school, saying I only needed to attend half days. At that point, it was almost halfway through the year and I had failed most of my classes. I was aware. It wasn’t a secret.
About a week into this plan, my English teacher stops me and tells me to step into the hallway. I agree and think it’s probably for me to make up a test. No…She tells me, ‘You are lazy. I don’t know what is allowed at your house, but at my house this behavior isn’t allowed. Maybe I should arrange a meeting with the principal, vice principal, and all of your teachers. You just need to get over it—people die everyday.’ I left that day and never came back. I can never even think of stepping foot into that building, as it causes me extreme anxiety. My mom did try to investigate, but was told by our school’s VP, ‘Kids lie…So, you know.’
The following year I did enroll in a online school. It was so much better and I learned much, much more. I continued on with my music and eventually was able to get past one official audition and an academy audition twice. A year after my dad’s death I got my own dog—I’ve had dogs before but he’s special. Once I got him, I started smiling and laughing again. I also feel like I came out a changed person for the better. I don’t wish this to happen to anyone or for anyone to feel this type of pain, but because I have this life experience I tend to appreciate things a lot more and see things differently than I would have if things were ‘normal.'”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Mackenzie Perez. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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