If you’re reading this then you already know. I logged into Facebook. I shared this post. And here you are. I love you. Brad.
Yup, so, I logged into Facebook for the first time in nearly four years. I was debating about writing why I logged in but felt it was best since you probably followed the link from Facebook which means we are friends in some capacity.
Why I logged off and why I did not log back in are not the same. I’ll be honest here. I needed a break from Facebook. Didn’t think it would be a 4 year sort of break but thats what happened.
And its mostly because at month four of the break the events which happened below did a number on me.
I became a dad to Max on July 9th, 2014.
I became a dad to Vada on July 29th, 2015.
I lost my Dad on March 31st, 2016.
Those 20 months were the most emotional ones in my entire life.
Any one of those will change you forever. With all three happening so close together it really affected me.
Its like two waves I could ride stacked up on a much larger wave that I could not and all three broke on me at the same time.
It doesn’t matter that the two small waves were “happy” waves. The much larger “sad” wave consumed them and it was just one big fucking wave.
I am not a surfer but hopefully that analogy makes sense.
And what followed was sadness.
Its remarkable how that sadness would not let me out of its grasp for the better part of three years. Its like I was fishing with my favorite lure, got it snagged, and no matter what I tried I could not get it back.
Everything suffered. I am sure I’ve lost friends because I haven’t called or checked Facebook in that time. I could not get motivated to work. I sold or got rid of anything that brought me stress. I hated how I felt and for the first time in my life I was being negative. This negativity consumed me and the last thing I wanted to do was dump this on Facebook or even on the phone.
Thats not me. And I know that.
A lot of this started when Max was 5 months old. Andrea and I felt like we were getting this whole parenting thing under control. He was sleeping through the night. We had a schedule. Ok, we got this.
Around that fifth month my parents stopped by on their way back from a Dr. visit Dad had at U of M. Prior to that visit he had been coughing quite a bit but was not sick. His Dr. could not figure it out and sent him to a specialist at U of M.
Something felt different when Mom and Dad walked into the house. After Dad settled into our recliner and me on the couch I asked him how the visit went. “Ok”, he replied.
Mom heard his reply from the kitchen table and walked over to us and said “No, it was not ok.”
I immediately make eye contact with Dad and he can’t bring himself to say anymore.
“You’re father has been diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. The Dr. said most people live 3-5 years after diagnosis.”
Dad and I locked eyes for thirty seconds without a word being said. I was in shock as much as he had been since he left the hospital. I go over to him on the recliner and give him a hug that lasts for minutes.
Dad said very little the rest of their visit and I can understand why. He had just been told how his life was going to end.
After Mom and Dad left it started to sink in what I just heard. I spent the rest of the night reading about his disease and it was not good. It was a incurable lung disease with no treatments. People have a better chance beating cancer than IPF. I was shocked to find out that more people die every year from IPF than breast cancer.
Over the next week I researched everything I could about IPF. The realities of this disease not only taking Dads life but making the next 3-5 years miserable for him were sinking in.
And at the end of that week Andrea told me were were pregnant.
The amount of things that were going through my mind was overwhelming. We have a five month old. I had just spent most of the day trying to find anything that might help Dad. And then to think we would be going through the whole pregnancy and those first three months with a new baby all again.
It was too much all at the same time.
It was at this time that the thought of logging back into Facebook and keeping up with friends in general started to fade.
I tried to spend as much time as I could with Mom and Dad after hearing about the diagnosis.
Sadly, Dad’s six to nine months of coughing before his Dr. visit were not included in those 3-5 years. He came down with pneumonia and swine flu at the same time 18 months after being diagnosed.
You cannot get sick when you have pulmonary fibrosis. He fought for 10 days in the ICU but he just could not get over the pneumonia and swine flu.
The entire experience of being with Mom in the hospital watching the Drs. and Nurses come and go. The two times Mom called Sean and I in the middle of the night telling us to get up there. It was a lot.
Dad knew he was sick. As did we. We were thinking he was leaving the hospital and this was going to be his first step towards being on an oxygen tank. A month after he passed I remember talking to Mom saying how it never sunk in with me the body language and apprehension in the Drs. and Nurses voices. They knew how sick he truly was.
The 21 gun salute at the funeral. The hundreds of people that knew Dad who showed up at the viewing. Mine and Sean’s friends from high school who we have not seen in a decade showing up. The guys on our softball team buying flowers. All of it made a lifelong impression on me.
I was asked by a number of my parents friends for a copy of the speech I gave at the luncheon. With all of them on Facebook I logged in and posted it. It was the only time I logged into Facebook these last four years. As soon as I posted the link I closed the browser. I didn’t even log back in to see what people said. It was all too much.
The next six months were tough. Whatever energy was left over from taking care of the kids was consumed by thinking about Dad. For the first time in my life I was having panic attacks and bouts of anxiety.
It took me over a year from Dad’s passing to be “ok” most of the time. Not just those few times I’d get together with friends.
I remember a phone call Mom and I had last year on a nice fall day. We were talking about the rental properties and we got onto a different topic. And for the first time in a long time we laughed.
Our phone calls the previous 18 months had mostly been done while holding back tears. It was tough to talk about anything as Mom, Dad, Sean, and I did everything together.
It was after the phone call that I felt like I finally got my favorite fishing lure back. It was a little beat up from getting tangled but it was good to have it back. Each day afterwards became a little bit easier.
I don’t want this to seem like it was all doom and gloom. I also don’t want this to seem like I’m blaming this on my kids. They did nothing wrong. They were babies. One baby, let alone two babies, require massive amounts of attention and energy.
Oh, and we’re still friends. You can bet your mother fucking ass that we are.
Just because your boy left the party to go on a beer run, got the beer, got some pizza, ate the pizza, then had to get diapers, and then more diapers, and more beer, and whiskey, and more beer, and more whiskey, and then made it back to the party before all y’all were ready to pass out doesn’t mean I wasn’t still partying. Just got a little distracted making my way back.
There were some good moments. Softball games, golf tournaments, ski trips, and others. I could be myself for those once in awhile fun things. It was the day to day stuff that got me.
So much changed so fast that it took me a lot longer to grasp everything. But I guess thats life. It has its own timetable.
There is a lot more I can talk about but it was these three events that kept me off Facebook, that kept me from texting, and that kept me from calling friends. It kind of turned into an un-intended experiment.
People deal with these things differently. I guess for me it was shutting down. I did not like it. Its just how it happened.
If you tried getting a hold of me on Facebook these past couple of years and wondered why I did not reply. This is why. And I apologize for that. I have quite a bit of catching up to do.