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.






Giving Cali a Forever Home.

Shortly after Tawny and I moved in together we made a wonderful $50 purchase on our little fluffy angel, Tucker. He was so tiny when we got him 7 months ago. Tawny was at home a lot by herself while I worked and she was getting tired of being alone, and I just wanted a cutie pie running around the house. Having a puppy was an interestingly hard journey. He peed everywhere, he pooped even more, and I was so scared to leave him alone because the thought of him being sad broke my heart. Tucker eventually outgrew the puppy stage, and now he is totally house broken, sleeps with us without any problems, and is the best little boy I could ask for.

Lately, we have been talking about getting another puppy for Tucker to play with, perhaps a little sister for him. Yesterday we finally went through with it and went to pick up our tiny ball of fur. Even though we didn’t get her from a shelter, I say that we rescued her because of her awful living conditions.

Tawny and I pulled up to a small trailer that had about 15 dogs running wild outside. The first person to come out of the house was a 5-year-old boy holding our soon-to-be little girl, and he was covered head to toe in sores. Instantly I knew that we were about to enter a place neither of us were used to. The little boy’s father finally came out and the first words he said to us were “Well, they smell bad. They’ve been shittin’ everywhere and rollin’ in it. Eatin’ it too.” You could imagine my face when he said that. But, I still wanted to see this little girl I had found. Upon entering the house there was a woman on the couch, also covered in sores, holding 3 precious puppies. We saw her and where she lived, and we knew that we couldn’t leave her under the “care” or pathetic excuse for that, with these people.

Tawny and I grabbed our little one and left as quickly as we could. The smell that radiated off of our new angel was so disgusting that we were both light-headed just from being near her. She had no energy, she was exhausted, and she was taken over by fleas. All you had to do was look at her blonde fur and you instantly saw fleas crawling all over her. She looked up at us with the saddest eyes, and Tawny (being the softy that she is) started bawling. “She’s just so little. She doesn’t deserve this. We have to get her better.” So that’s exactly what we did.

We drove an hour and a half home and went straight to the sink. We pulled out the dawn soap and bathed her 3 times. After bathing her I held her while Tawny hand-picked over 50 fleas off of her. 50 damn fleas. This sweet little girl was treated so unfairly. After her bath and being dried off she slept harder than I imagine she’d slept before. She was happy, and eventually after getting used to her, Tucker seemed happy too.

We are now back in the puppy stages. Tucker is such a good big brother, and anytime Cali wines, he is the first to let me know. Cali, named after California (Tawny’s home state), has been the best addition to our family. Tawny is obsessed with her, and I love her so much. She’s perfect.

Last night as we were praying before bed, I got to change “Thank you for Tawny and Tucker and my perfect little family”, to “Lord, thank you for Tawny, Tucker, and Cali, my perfect little family.” And because of that, because of this beautiful little family that I have been blessed with, I am all smiles.