My father, William Alan Barrett, died today, June 15th, 2006, at 12:25 p.m. That’s the time the doctors listed. I don’t know if that’s technically true; he may have died in his front yard, before being taken to the hospital. Or been on his way to dying.
No one knows what happened. It could have been a massive heart attack, or a pulmonary embolism, or something else; doctors couldn’t tell. He was mowing the lawn. Samira saw him fall over from an upstairs bedroom. She performed CPR; he had a hole in his cheek from falling on his glasses. She says they locked eyes, but he didn’t say anything.
Samira called me at work and told me there had been an accident. I ran out without taking a bite from the bagel I had just bought. I thought he had fallen off the mower, broken a leg, maybe been cut.
Andrew and Samira were on the driveway, huddled together, my mom walking around on the phone, crying. Two ambulances and a police car. Cop walking around, keeping us back, looking flummoxed, pacing. Samira crying. I could see the paramedics doing CPR; everytime they pushed down on his chest his legs would fly up off the ground and crash back down. That’s one image I can’t get out of my head.
We met them at the hospital, waited in a tiny reception room. We didn’t have to wait long; a Doctor came in with someone I could instantly tell was some kind of Chaplain. That was it.
That whole time had been spent worrying about what we would do if the worst happened. Then the worst just happened. Surreality took over.
We went in to see the body. He was blueish. I held his hand. It was cold. That’s another image I can’t get out of my head.
We were in there a long time. I called Will, coming from Long Island. Told him we would meet at Samira’s, did he understand what I was saying, we were meeting at home and that wasn’t going to change. Came off like an asshole. I didn’t know what to say, didn’t come out how I wanted.
There’s crying everywhere. We went back to Dad’s, Andrew took off for some food, Samira took a shower, Mom went to call people. Alone, I made a sandwich. Ate half.
The lawn is half-mowed. It’s gruesome. Easily the worst part. Later, I found a small, dark-red spot. That’s my dad’s blood, I thought.
Everyone finally arrived: Rob, Jamie, Tamara, Will, Sam, Mark. Plus Mom, Andrew, Samira and I. We went back to the hospital to see the body again. There was blood in his mouth. It dripped out of the corners of his lips; I dabbed it off with a towel and his mouth moved, causing more blood to drip out. Will, Andrew and I held each other for a long time. They were crying. Will said, “We were so lucky.” I said, “We are Barretts until the day we die.”
I didn’t cry. I still haven’t. Haven’t even come close. To be totally honest, I don’t feel that upset now.
I just went to taekwondo with my dad yesterday. I got a fucking email from him this morning: wedding photos.
Everyone came back to the house. Emily came over, which was really nice of her. I talked to Nate. I talked to the organ donor people, answered all their questions about diseases Dad may or may not have had. I argued for an autopsy.
Don’t know where I’m going with this.
For a while I sat outside, in the dark, on a rock right next to where he fell over.
Kind of thought he might come out of the woods, or something. Kind of thought he might wake up.
Not even in a wishing-hoping kind of way. I just thought he might. Seriously.
It’s been just about half a day, then, since my dad died. Half a day. Which leaves the rest of my life to go.