One Day Last Year

I’d almost forgotten. In the back of my mind, I must have known, although it wasn’t until I physically wrote the date with a blue felt marker on a lined piece of paper that the significance flooded my memory. This day last year was a Monday, the beginning of an average work week. I had plans to meet up with my dear friend Alex for the most amazing dinner at Feast and after a few hours of catching each other up on our lives, I made my way home to Brooklyn.

It wasn’t a late night, and upon my arrival I made my way upstairs to check in on Dad, who I found had dozed off while watching television. I leaned over to rouse him, chattering about my day and dinner, asking him about his day and if he was on track with his medications. He stirred but seemed disoriented. It had been a hot couple of days so I went to the kitchen for a cold glass of water to refresh him. When I got back he was mumbling, the water seemed to waken his senses. I was suspicious though, he had TIAs previously -- and the signs suggested that maybe he had an episode earlier in the evening.

I decided to go upstairs to see if everything was okay--Dad wasn’t always forthcoming with anything that suggested he wasn’t healthy as an ox, or as close to 100% as he could get.  I told him to finish his water and rest a moment. Upstairs things seemed to be in order, the bathroom and hallway were both clear.  I was resetting the portable A/C for the evening when I heard Dad make his way to the stairs. The cadence of his footsteps seemed wrong, rather than the step-step-stomp of his slippered feet and cane hitting each stair, I heard step-step, step-step-stomp. He was using the cane to support him on every other step.

I made my way to the top of the staircase, talking to him about using the cane for support so he wouldn’t fall. He was on the second to last step, I think he may have paused to consider what I was saying, the cane had not yet touched down. In that second before I could even think, before I could reach out, he fell backward, somersaulting down the stairs, only stopping as he made impact with the landing wall and fell into fetal position under the hall table. I hear myself gasp, then shriek. Everything else after that plays out like a stop-motion movie. Dashing down the stairs, calling 911 while coaching my father not to move, the arrival of the ambulance, the ride to the hospital with an EMT driver unfamiliar with south Brooklyn, and the emergency room and ICU at the Lutheran Trauma Center.

It was the third to last day in July 2013.  
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