They say it helps to write out your feelings when such a tragedy happens in your life. So here I go writing exactly a month later about the day that my daddy passed away so unexpectedly that it seems I can’t understand from whether I’m hungry or not, to what day it is, to crying uncontrollably whenever I think about him.
Now this day started off like any Saturday except my husband and I were kidless for the day. My husband’s kids were with their other family and our daughter was at her friends. And we were deciding what to do with ourselves. We had originally planned to go to the beach on Saturday because of all that nice weather we were having but ended up going midday the day before on Friday.
We ended up eating out at a new Mexican restaurant at the Clackamas Town Center stopping by afterwards for a bubble tea. Watermelon bubble tea with boba hit the spot.
Once we got home I passed by my dad who was sitting on the couch in the living room, turning to him giving my usual “hi, pop!” And he gave his usual smile and wave as I proceeded up the stairs. (For those who don’t know, I live in a duplex with my parents. I live upstairs with my husband and kids and my parents live downstairs.)
After a late lunch I suddenly felt very tired. Rarely do I ever take a nap but this day it was calling for me. My husband started to turn on the tv only to be told he needed a usb cord to update his PS5 controller. As he started looking around for a cord I was drifting into a nice dream only to be woken up by my husband asking me about heading over to the store together to purchase one since one wasn’t found. I said sure but for some reason felt so tired that all I could do was move from the couch to the bed. Husband asked again about going to the store and I just couldn’t seem to will myself out of bed and started drifting away into a nap.
Only to be woken up to a blood curdling scream of my name, “DASHA!!” “DASHA!!” In that moment I was just confused going through a list of why my name is being frantically called, did I park my car wrong, thinking also that it can’t be anything to do with my daughter since she was at her friends house.
I rushed downstairs only to find my mom frantically standing next to my dad who was slumped over in his computer chair. The first thing my mom tells me is to call 911 and that my dad is unresponsive and can’t feel his heartbeat or pulse. My mom was in such shock that she couldn’t seem to find a way to type the numbers into her phone.
Honestly in that moment I couldn’t seem to call 911 so I yelled for my husband to come downstairs and quickly told him to call 911. And he did. This was around 4:05pm, Saturday, April 17, 2021.
In the moment it felt so unreal. I felt my dad’s heart, couldn’t hear it, I tried to feel his pulse on his neck and his hand as I was taught in MRT (medical response team) that I was a part of for many years and there was no pulse.
A simple prayer kept being uttered from my mouth, “please God”, “please God”, “please God” while my husband was sharing with the operator what was happening. At times I would yell into the phone to hurry that they need to stop asking so many questions and just send an ambulance over ASAP! Even though in the back of my mind I knew, from my own emergency training, that the operator already had sent someone over as soon as we had called them, but in those moments of panic that piece of information was distant from my mind.
I remember grabbing the phone from my husband yelling that my daddy’s face is turning a yellow white color while the rest of his body was now turning splotchy red. The operator kept asking about my dad’s health to which I responded he was pretty healthy, did not complain of any issues, and recently ate lunch of eggs and sausage, with minor high blood pressure issues in the past couple years (my mom shared all this so I could tell the operator). While all this was going on I heard my dad taking a shallow breathe every other minute or so almost seeming to indicate to me that there was hope. Hope that my dad was still here.
The operator then advised us to bring my dad down to the floor and for one of us to perform CPR. Now I did know CPR from my previous training but my husband had more recent training and of course he’s quite stronger than me so he chose to do it. We gently laid my dad on the floor and my husband went into hero mode and started performing CPR.
CPR was being performed while I’m bawling my eyes out with the operator on the phone advising me to let them know when the assistance will come to our home. One time I even told my husband to take it easy on the CPR because I knew my husband was strong and was worried he would hurt my dad but the operator reassured all of us that that was exactly what my dad needed. It literally felt like forever and yet it also felt like seconds. Such a distortion of time during this time.
Finally I saw the fire truck coming and the 911 operator confirmed with me that I had seen the fire truck and that they will be letting me go while advising me to quickly come out to them and greet them. This was about 8-12 minutes (I think) from the time we called 911 and my husband had been performing CPR on my dad.
Close to 4-5 individuals from the fire department came out to our home to assist with my dad. They instantly took over the CPR and started getting my dad prepped for the AED machine to jump start his heart.
I did have a moment where I remembered to text my family members to pray for our dad. Of course without going into too much detail via text it concerned everyone and the only thing I was able to do was to send a picture of how many people were working on our dad.
Everything else was a blur for the next 30 minutes or so. While the fire fighters were working on my dad shortly after that the EMTs arrived. Asking the same questions I feel that after answering so many times that I was able to quickly answer. During this whole time my mom was in such shock. I would remind her to not exert herself and that they are all doing the best they can.
The EMT’s continued the CPR, attempted many jump starts from the AED kit, started an IV to give fluid, only for them to suck it back out as it apparently went into my dad’s lungs, and intubated him as well.
I do recall the EMT’s asking if this was Covid related at all and I remember we said no since my dad has not been around anyone recently and no symptoms.
Finally, it seemed like the main person who talks to people came over to me and my mom sharing that while my dad hasn’t had a pulse or heartbeat since they’ve gotten here but they will be transporting him to the Sunnyside Hospital where the doctors would be able to care for him better and there was better testing there as well.
Not more than 30 seconds had passed but the same person came back to me and my mom and with softness and compassion in his voice stated “I am sorry but he has passed”. A million questions seemed to form in my mind… why… what about the shallow breathing my dad was doing every other minute… what changed in those 30 seconds from them telling us they will be transporting him… what the freak, am I in a freaking nightmare…
After that statement I remembered to text my family to let them know our dad has passed away.
An explanation was provided as to why they changed it from transporting to declaring my dad passed (can’t seem to be able to say the other word yet) and that was because my dads heart/pulse was never restarted and it was clear he passed more than likely at the very beginning; possibly even before 911 was even called. As far as the shallow breathes it was explained that sometimes when bodies pass away that abruptly the brain is still working trying to tell the body it still needs to breathe even though the heart is no longer working.
And everything else was a blur.
I recall a police officer had come to assess the situation, taking our information in. Grief counselors came to provide information on the next steps. The firefighters and EMT’s left, leaving my dad’s body on the floor. Both my sisters came and then my brother only to find our dad had already passed away. Then the medical examiner came and confirmed that it was a natural passing and released my dad’s body to the funeral home. My aunt and uncle came and provided us a funeral home they previously used for my grandma and that’s who I called and scheduled to pick up my dad. They came and picked him up and we were all left with what felt was a big gaping hole in our hearts that nothing could fill.
And the verse from the Bible resonated in me from Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”