The Hairbrush

It’s been a long while since I shared or wrote anything. I keep meaning to write- but I haven’t felt inspired. I have distracted myself with Netflix and Hulu because I really didn’t want to face myself again. But here I am – back for today. 

I decided to go through some of my drafts and I found this from 2018. I have made some edits and added to it. I thought I would share today…

It was March 2018 that I went home (i.e. Chicago) for the first time in about 7 months. My purpose of the trip was to attend an old high school friend’s wedding- it was also Easter weekend, which meant I got to also spend time with family-specifically my aunts. I have always had a very special bond and relationship with each of my aunts. Each relationship is special in it’s own way. We are a family of mostly women. Strong women. My aunts made me who I am. That year for Easter we celebrated a day early since I had to head back to Memphis on Sunday- and instead of lunch or dinner, we did brunch.

Easter that year was far different from the traditional Easter meals I remember growing up. It was also a lot smaller. Over the years we have lost loved ones, and my two siblings no longer live in Chicago and we don’t always gather at the same time. If at all, honestly. Though it was small, it was still full of so much love, laughter, and joy. Every time I get to visit them, I am truly overjoyed and thankful that I got to spend intentional and quality time with them.

Because the truth is, we never know when our time will come.

During my visit, we were searching through some of my father’s and grandmother’s things and found some old pictures- this had us walking down memory lane,  and as usual we were talking our passed loved ones and sitting with that loss. It’s hard not to do that, especially when you’re sitting around a table that used to be so much fuller with plates, chairs, laughs and conversation.

When I returned from my visit I spent the week reflecting and thinking about my dad. I don’t know what it is about birthdays and holidays- but I am always thinking of him. And a song came on the radio. This song is significant because it is also the same song I heard on my way to the airport when I had to fly home after my dad passed.

The song is “Over You” and it is song by Miranda Lambert- though the song is about Blake Shelton and his loss of his brother. I love the song because for me I understand the pain and the loss in the lyrics- I get that feeling of “never going to, get over you”.

My dad passed away very suddenly, August 28th, 2012. I was in college, 600 miles south- the semester had just began. To this day I can tell you exactly where I was, who I was with, and what I was doing when I received the call.

The pain I felt was a pain I never really felt before. It was complete heartbreak, and shock. I couldn’t walk- it was like my heart was literally being torn out of chest. I didn’t understand what I was just told over the phone. This couldn’t be true. How could this be?

I had to call my sister, my aunt( my dad’s sister), and my brother’s mom. At first we didn’t know how he had passed, we thought maybe he had taken his own life. Later we learned his heart had given out on him. Which in some ways I think is symbolic to how the last years of his life had been. In so many ways, my father had given up on himself. Others had given up on him. I gave up on him. I was young still, 21 at the time and in college. I was just trying to make it on my own, I was tired of parenting my parents.

I go back to the last time I saw my dad- it was maybe just two weeks before he had passed away. I took that visit for granted. In fact, I remember feeling like visiting my father was such a chore. I was angry that he lost his house- my grandparent’s house. I was angry that he just let his life fall apart around him. I was angry with how he carelessly spent his money. So of course going to visit him in the hospital was just annoying to me. It really was. I had gone there to visit my aunt, I didn’t have a car. And now he is in a rehab treatment wing? I mean part of me was glad-finally my dad was taking steps to take care of his health. But I was still annoyed that I had to do this. I could’ve been more understanding. But at that point I didn’t understand.

My dad had a problem with pain killers- Vicodin. As a kid I didn’t realize this was a problem. I didn’t understand. I knew he had hurt his back, and so he took pills to take care of the pain. But we all understand opioids a little bit better now a days, don’t we? I don’t know the extent of what he took or how many. But I know he was hooked on them. Which is why he checked himself into the rehab facility at the hospital.

That and I think he didn’t have anywhere else to go. He wanted help.

So I saw my dad. I remember sitting across from him, and he was talking to us about his health, talking about how he is reaching out to different places that are going to help him get back on his feet. He mentioned how when he checked in the doctors didn’t understand how he was alive because his blood pressure was so high. But against the odds, he was alive. He told me that he made plans to look at apartments near his longtime friend in Wisconsin, which would make him closer to my brother. I could see that my dad wanted to turn his life back around. He wanted to make things right. He wanted to fix the mess he got himself into. I really thought this was going to be second chance for him. He was going to make things right with my brother and sister. Before I left he asked if we could go pick up a few things for him- he needed some change of clothes, and a hairbrush (my dad always had longer hair than me).

Again here I felt the annoyance of doing this chore for him. I had to go to an old friend’s house where he was keeping his stuff to find him clothes, and a hairbrush. Why didn’t he come prepared?

But I did it. I found some clean clothes for him and a few other things.

But..

I forgot the hairbrush.

I forgot the damn hairbrush. 

I returned to the hospital only to realize I forgot the hairbrush. I knocked on the door of the facility, my dad came out grabbed the bag. I told him I forgot the hairbrush, but he was ok. We hugged.

And that was the last time I saw my father.

To this day I am haunted that all my dad wanted was a brush for his hair, and I was so annoyed to do this simple task for him I forgot the hairbrush.

I know it may seem small, but it’s the little things you know. The good little things, the little things you regret. The little things you take for granted.

August 27th, 2012. He was released from the rehab facility. He sent me a facebook message. Things were looking up. We didn’t have a conversation about anything significant, just a check in message. On August 29th he planned to go look at those apartments.

August 28th, 2012 my dad’s heart stopped. Everything was lining up just right for him, and then that was it. Sometimes I think my dad was just at a place where he was finally able to go, he served his purpose here. Things were looking up for him. So his heart wanted to just end on a happy note. He peaked, and there wasn’t anywhere else for him to go.

Maybe he just needed his hairbrush. 

Sometimes I wonder if he knew that he was loved. I think about his heart and how he always was seeking validation and love from somewhere. He wanted people to like him, he wanted to feel loved. I don’t know if my dad truly felt loved. I am not saying that he wasn’t- just that he was not an easy man to love. He didn’t know how to love himself or others. I know he did, he just didn’t know how to express it. So sometimes I think that his heart just gave out because it couldn’t keep giving anymore.

Looking back, I know my annoyance was me guarding myself from him. I was young, and at that point of my life still had so much healing left to do.

I have learned not to take my people in life for granted. Which is why spending time with the people I love is so important to me. Telling them I love them and sharing hugs. I never want anyone to feel unloved.

I don’t want to take the time I have here for granted.

We never know when our time will come.

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