34 minutes

February 6, 2017 at 5:15 A.M.

My phone makes a noise that my ears find strange for this time in the morning. My ears have been taught to hear my obnoxious, yet, necessary alarm to wake me up for work. My ears, however, were not trained to hear what was coming next.

I heard the silent ring getting louder and louder. My contact-less eyes fought hard to follow the faint light that came from my screen, I fumbled around until I finally grasped the phone and squinted hard enough to see “Grandma Lorrain” on my screen.

DadI thought it would about another seizure he had, and she more than likely needed me to coerce him into eating his glucose tablets for the 12 millionth time, because he was infamous to listening to me, and only me.

“Shelbie!” I heard in a scream, “It’s your daddy….”   sobs   “he isn’t waking up…”   sobs   “He had a seizure. He’s not responding” sobs and screams this time   “They’re shocking him now…c’mon Jesse wake up WAKE UP!” All of this before I even had time to react, to say “WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING?!?”

I knew in the exact moment, this time was different. I jumped out of bed and straight to the bathroom, I’m convinced that my feet never even hit the floor. Tawny, sweet Tawny, and her calming spirit didn’t even get scared because she knew I felt that enough for both of us. “Shelbie, your shoes…Shelbie, baby, we’ve gotta go. What’s happening? It’s going to be okay…Shelbie your contacts, put them in.”

As she’s saying all of this, I’m roaming around aimlessly, my only thought was to call my brother. My brother would be asleep. My brother would be contact-less. My brother would be fumbling around for his phone until he finally grabbed it and he would squint to see my name “Shelbie” on his phone. I calmed myself as much as I could because even though my brother is a grown man now with two babies and a wife of his own, in that moment he was still my sweet hearted, chubby little brother who I needed to protect if only for a moment. “Nelson, it’s dad. He’s had a seizure, I think…and he’s with the EMTs but he’s not waking up. Get ready and go up there, I’ll call you when I hear anything else.” Silence…until Nelson spoke finally “okay, be careful I’m leaving now.”

On the way to the hospital which not-so-conveniently was over an hour away, I prayed. I sobbed in fear for my precious dad, and I prayed harder than I ever thought possible. “Father, please, please heal my dad. Please, I’ll do anything. Take me. Take me in this moment. I’ll give up sweets if that’s necessary! I’ll tithe every month. I’ll go to whatever lengths I need to. Just please” I was praying to my Father, about my father, and both seemed to not be listening.

Tawny sped. She didn’t stop for red lights. She didn’t stop to even think. She just sped. She got us there in 35 minutes hoping that I could see my dad. Hoping that he would listen to me tell him to “WAKE UP!!!!!!!!” because everyone knew he listened to me, and only me. That went back to before I can even remember. But we weren’t there in time. We weren’t there to say goodbye. We weren’t there. He wasn’t there either, just his body, but he, he was long gone.

“Are you the family of Jesse Welk?” the doctor asked. “Let us finish taking the tubes out of him and he’ll be ready to view.” To view? TO VIEW? Is that what this was now? A fucking wax museum and someone put my dad in there to be VIEWED? My brother finally walked through the door, and the distraught look on his face was overwhelming. He grabbed my hand as he, Tawny, and I walked through the door of my dad’s room. The next hour is a complete blur of bullshit, tears, and absolute anguish.

When I saw my dad lying there in his pajama pants and his black tshirt, it’s like he was sleeping but I knew he wasn’t. My brother squeezed my hand and then our arms both went limp as we apparently both fell on the hospital beds to our sides. I don’t remember doing that, but Tawny said I did. He was right there. Lying on a cold bed, his soft hair as still as his heartbeat. I saw his tattoo on his right forearm and I touched the back of my neck, where the same tattoo resides on me. A father daughter celtic knot that can’t be untied. Yet here we are, and I felt like it had been untied and used as a rope to strangle me. I felt like a part of me died there too. I couldn’t take my fingers out of his hair, the softness comforted me somehow.

I don’t have an ending to this story, because none of this has ended. None of this has stopped hurting. None of this has turned to an emotion other that pain, and sadness, and absolute heartache. When I know how this ends. When I know how to stop missing the man who made me a strong person, when I know how to stop missing the ONLY one who accepted me for me, I will write this ending. Until then, it’s all left in the balance, just like my dad’s life was for 34 minutes.






Things Change

A lot of things change when you are in a committed relationship. I’m not that party girl I was in college. I’m not a girl who lives to go clubbing. I’m the girl who is totally fine hanging out at the house with or without a bottle of whiskey and a close group of friends. I’m the girl who would rather go to a restaurant to have a few drinks rather than pay $150 a weekend going to uptown. I’m the girl who would rather wear jeans and a t-shirt and skip out on the skirt and blouse. I’m the girl who would much rather wake up to the same woman every day, than going home with someone new every night. Some might say that I don’t have much of a social life anymore, but honestly, I’m fine with that. I’m not your average 23-year-old I would presume.

Being in college was a blast. I would party with my friends when I wanted to. I would drink on days where I had nothing to do after classes. I would go to work and stay up until 3 in the morning having sleepovers in the living room with my roommates. College was amazing to say the least. As fun as it was, it’s the past. It’s who I was before I landed a big girl job. Now that I’m a school teacher and a coach I’m in bed most nights by 10. The time that I do get off I’m relaxing with my girlfriend and my dog, because my body is worn down. Surely other people get this way once “grown up” life takes over.

As “boring” as I may seem, I love the life I live. I still have the same friends from college although they live 4 hours away from me. I still see my family weekly. I still love to have fun. There are a few people who don’t necessarily enjoy the new me. They feel neglected, and I can somewhat see where they are coming from. They still love going out every weekend, and functioning on little to no sleep. I, on the other hand, can not do that. Physically, or mentally. I need my beauty sleep for sure. As much as we tried to not face it, the fact is, things change. We all have to grow up at some point. My grown up won’t be the same as your grown up, which is perfectly fine. Just like we are all different, so are out opinions.

Sometimes I miss the old, carefree, Shelbie. Mainly the carefree part, not having bills, not working everyday, not having to come home and grade papers, etc. Other than that, I love my life. I love who I am. I love being in a committed relationship and coming home to the same person every day. I love grabbing my girl and spontaneously dancing in the kitchen instead of gettin’ it on the dance floor. This is who I am. And I love who I am. The people who love me enough to stick around will hold on to me, and accept me for who I am. They’ll accept that Tawny is now apart of me too, and it’s not me anymore. Those who matter will be here, those who don’t, well…I hope a memory of the old me will suffice.