Today is November 9th, 2017, the 20 year anniversary of my father's death. I think most people would acknowledge it and go on with their lives, but each year, I'm reminded of how much of a failure I am as a human being.
I wrote this song "Herald" to honor the occasion.
My father meant the world to me. So much so, that when my mother died in 1990 (I was 9), I made a promise to everyone that if my father died before a certain point, I would kill myself. The day came and went like any other, and I'm still here, 20 years after the fact. Part of me feels like I'm living a lie, that I should've kept my promise.
I remember coming home from a friend's house in New Jersey about a week before he passed away. It was the first time I took the trains from NJ to Brooklyn NY by myself. I felt pretty good about myself. I came home, and found out my father was sick. He said it was the flu. My siblings and I took care of him best we could. We got him things he asked for, but he was mostly bedridden the rest of the week.
I had no idea what was actually happening. He had an infection in his foot that became gangrenous, and spread throughout his lower body. He had Diabetes, the kind you had to take needles of insulin for, which he stopped taking. Two nights before his death, I asked him if I should call an ambulance, and he told me to give it some time. I listened, because I didn't know any better.
The night before his passing, he was delirious, talking about pink elephants in the room. I should've called the ambulance, but I waited just like he asked me to.
The morning of his passing, I had a dream that he was okay, and that he had brought us some gifts. When I woke up, I went to see how he was doing. He was in a diabetic coma, unresponsive. He shit himself at some point, which caused me to gag and almost throw up. I called the ambulance, and they took him away to the hospital.
He had a heart attack in the ambulance, but they managed to stablilize him.
I remember my grandmother took me to the hospital, where most of his siblings were there for him. He was still unresponsive. I tried calling out to him several times, and he would open his eyes briefly and then close them.
I don't recall the next set of events very well, but I remember I was asked about his allergies. My father had made it very clear to me that he was allergic to Penicillin. Fatally allergic. I wrote down on the paperwork they gave me that he was allergic.
But they gave it to him anyway (I did not know this until around 15 years after his passing). He became swollen, and that was it. The doctor's made it seem like it was a show, offering to let us see him in his swollen state. I refused to go into his room, while my two brothers did. One brother broke down crying, the other one almost fainted.
He passed away soon after. No goodbyes, no words of any kind. He was just dead. I blame myself for his death. Because while I did know about his allergy, I didn't think they would give him Penicillin. They didn't listen to me. No one listens to me.
It's my fault he's dead. Or at the very least, that he did not get a chance to say goodbye to us. I've been carrying this burden in my mind for 20 years. People have tried to tell me it wasn't my fault, but I refuse to believe it. I should've been smarter. I knew enough to potentially save his life, and I fucked up.
My father was my world when I was a kid. After my mother died, he took care of me and my 3 siblings by himself, on welfare, for 7 years. He was a gamer, I think his favorite game was Tecmo Bowl on the NES. But seeing that I had an interest in video games, he spoiled me as much as he could on his limited income.
I had at least a hundred NES games. See, he worked at a video rental store that also rented games. Many of the games he brought home from the store. He was a manager I believe. I don't really know what he was, but all I knew was that I was getting video games left and right. I played them all, enjoyed most of them, and we would play games together as well.
I still remember the first really bad video game I played. It was Conan for NES. It was so bad, that I actually cried. I felt awful that a gift my father got me was so bad.
After my mother died, the games didn't come in like they used to. What ended up happening, was that we would trade games into a store like Funcoland or a local market, and get other games that were interesting at the time.
I remember the only time I ever showed affection towards my father, was when he bought me a Super Nintendo with Mario World and Gradius III. I kissed him on the cheek. I didn't like displays of affection, or I suppose I didn't really understand them.
He tried his best, on a limited income, to support both my gaming, and music hobbies. At the time, I was extremely interested in music, because I was in the school band. I remember playing trumpet in the band, because it was the cheapest instrument to rent for the year. I became somewhat of a prodigy I think the word is. My band teacher, and my father, were proud of me.
Eventually, my father bought me a casio keyboard. It was a cheap 49-key device, but it was great to learn how to play by ear. I remember teaching myself songs like the Zelda overworld, Michael Jackson's Beat It, and so on. He supported my music hobby up until he died, having bought me a nicer keyboard the month before he passed away.
My father was a great man. He did not drink, or smoke anything. The only time he ever hit us, was to discipline us (or at the request of my mother). He took care of us, tried to get us on the right path. All he wanted, was to see one of us graduate high school, but it didn't happen. None of us (me and my 3 siblings) graduated, and I feel like he was let down by this.
It's strongly believed that he let himself go. He stopped treating the diabetes with insulin, and let the infection in his foot consume his body. On one of the last days of his life, my siblings and I were arguing over who would pick up some jell-o for him, and he said his last coherent words "If I was on my deathbed, you would all be fighting over who calls 911".
That wasn't the case. I woke up before everyone else, saw him the way he was, and called 911 to get help.
I don't know what message I'm trying to get across with this blog. I just feel the need to talk about his death on the day it happened. And this is the 20 year anniversary, which feels like a milestone to me. I was 16 when he passed away. I've lived more years of my life without my father than with. I broke a very real promise of suicide to keep going for him. Do I regret it?
Yes and no. Based on what I've experienced in the last 20 years, I would be fine with killing myself 20 years ago. My life is boring. I don't have as many people to talk to anymore, and hardly anyone supports my music (in a "these songs sound nice" way, not a "here's 5 dollars" way).
My life is boring because I am depressed. All my life, I've felt sad, usually for no reason. And I feel like I have no one I can talk to about it. I feel like I'm always falling through the cracks of society, and that's where I belong.
Life is not all that bad. I've so far got to spend 17 years with my loving girlfriend. The one woman I fell in love with, who I thought was out of my reach (although I never really made an attempt to spark a relationship). It just kind of happened on New Years 2000.
She is a great person, and my main reason to keep going. I suffer from various health and autism related conditions every day. It's a living nightmare most of the time. But I do it for her, because I don't want her to be sad. I don't want her to discover my lifeless body (if it's a suicide, if I die in my sleep, it can't be helped).
But I'm starting to ramble. This blog is meant to honor my father, a man that fought very hard against his own body, trying to kill him. So he could raise 4 kids on a shoestring budget. I will be doing what I always do this time of year. I will drink in his honor, and after this milestone, I want to try to be a better person.