It was my favorite day of the week, Monday. May 23rd to be exact. Just a regular day, daily grind kinda morning, fresh start of a new week. I woke up feeling like life was rainbows and sunshine. I was headed out to the kitchen to say goodbye to my mom as we both were running leaving for work. I had just shared a inspirational/accountability post on my Instagram. As a matter of fact, I had silenced a call from an unknown number to finish hashtagging. Then I got a text, from my long time friend Heather (Army sister), she still lives in Georgia where we moved from and where my parents well my dad because he hadn’t finished work yet) still live. I hadn’t heard from her in a bit and her message read “call me it is an emergency”, so I called her right away. When she answered she was very shaky and trying very hard to be calm. She said something I never saw coming “Your dad passed out on the job, and is en route to the hospital via ambulance”. I had just found out that her husband was working with my dad on his most recent jobs. I was stunned. Scared, confused, and a ton of fear washed over me. I wanted to be optimistic, but for some reason I just couldn’t. I walked out and told my mom, she sat on the couch crying, repeating ” Oh Scott, be okay, please be okay.”
All I could think of was to call the Liberty 911 and make sure they knew that my dad was on meds. My friend Tianna works there so I figured maybe she would be working, and could give me some info. But she wasn’t. The lady on the other end told me the hospital the ambulance was going to and the phone number. So I called there and left my name and number for the doctor to call me back. Meanwhile, we paced for seemed like 20 mins, but it was only about 4 minutes when the doctor called back. I had finally gotten myself to sit down and my mom was fairly quiet. We put him on speaker since my mom was shaking so bad she couldn’t hold it. The doctor apologized for his late response and proceeded to break our hearts. ” I am so sorry. We couldn’t resuscitate him, we exhausted all of the resources at our disposal.”
I could go on to tell you the gut wrenching vision of watching your mother cry and scream in complete horror, doubled over on the ground, but I am sure you can picture. I couldn’t even process because I had to make sure she didn’t pass out and I had to notify my sister’s and the rest of the family. I finally made it into my room and knees hit the floor. Heart attack, a heart condition he knew nothing about took my dad from this Earth. I feel robbed. I didn’t get enough time, he was supposed to be here in 2 weeks. 2 WEEKS. He died on the job he was finishing to move here. He died working so hard in such high heat, he literally fell over. I have a heart condition. He didn’t as far as we knew. He was supposed to finally move home after 18 years, even though he really didn’t want to. Now he is home, in heaven. I have had real heart pains since my dad died, not just emotional hurt, my murmur has been far more frequent and my heart rate erratic. It has made me feel unsafe at times. Now I have a new fear for my children, since I found out a lot of deaths are from heart conditions in my family.
After my initial shock and crying, I remembered my son was there in GA with my dad, and was in school. He had no guardian, he would have to be pulled out of class to be told not to ride the bus home, because his grandpa had died. Utter terror gripped me, my child in a state 3000miles away ALONE! hurting and scared. I already felt desperate to get my child home in a few short weeks, but I had a whole new weakness. I couldn’t believe this was happening. My year has been such a roller coaster and I just wanted the ride to end. My husband and I were separated and he moved to his home state WY, and my son went to live with my dad (he wanted to spend time with his buddy and be a support while we divorced) to finish his school year while my mom moved here to get them a house ready. Complicated year. Remember my post a few months ago about my life changing this year? Ya, I just thought me and my husband would be getting divorced, I didn’t even consider death
My first instinct was to call my husband and tell him. I found this to be a key moment for us, since we were done and living apart for over 3 months. It let me know I still couldn’t imagine being without him in life. That he was my person, no matter how much we tried to push each other away. The first thing he did was catch a flight to go be with our son and help ready my parents house for my mom to come back to bury my dad. I am so sad he couldn’t have gotten there to be the one to tell my son, instead some police offer or school counselor had to tell him and then have him call me. The way he said “Mom?” as he asked me if it was true, if he was really dead, if he was really alone in a state so far away, basically I heard the voice of a scared child, instead of the teenage with no filter. I felt so out of control.
I made my way to Georgia with my mother and girls. When we got there I was smacked with memories everywhere I turned. It felt comfortable there, he was everywhere. My whole adult life of memories. But every memory hurt, because he wasn’t actually there. When I finally did see him, to say goodbye, it all hit me at once. He was really gone, and I would never see him again, hear his laugh, or giggle when he liked my pictures on social media. Yeah, his facebook and instagram are still there, but only as a reminder that he existed. You guys, all I have left of him is digital. He wasn’t a man of wealth, nice things to hold onto, or even trinkets. And I had deleted all the messages on my phone a few days before he died, so I don’t have anything. I could only even find one picture with both of us in it as an adult. Leaving Georgia and all of those memories ripped my heart out of my chest. I don’t know if I will ever go back, I even cancelled my half marathon there. Going there with no parents to welcome me, no dad talking crap about WA, no dad having a freezing cold house to come home to, seems like unnecessary pain to put myself through, especially this year. I will sincerely miss all of those memories and maybe someday I can go back and see their home, walk his beach, and drive his favorite streets and see the town he was so invested in. Until, then I will just have to have my mom tell me his stories. I will miss his stories.
My whole life my dad was a protector, he never let me want for anything. He took us on amazing vacations, was my coach, my hero. He served his country, I am totally a military brat and a military wife. These are some of the things I have to hold onto. He loved people, music, and always put his all into his work, these are traits I am happy to have gained from him. He was an amazing grandpa, had fun nicknames for all of his “grands”Naney, Lisema, and triple LP (lil lil lil princess) he called me quite a few too, Princess and Dauphy. I am gonna miss those moments for my kids. I am gonna miss them for me too. At least I am home in WA where most of my young memories began, so I can visit our places.
So most of you already know some of this. But I needed to get it out, to tell it in the details that run through my mind over and over again everyday. It is affecting me. I don’t feel like me, one of the people who made me is gone. I feel like a piece of me is missing. I don’t have the same passion for things, because my whole life has changed, and new things have to take priority.
My dad and me didn’t always get along, we are both very loud and passionate dreamers. We both have very driven personalities and once we set our minds to something, we are dang stubborn. But every good childhood memory I have has my dad in them. I loved my dad. I hope he knew how much, even when we argued or I had to remind him of the character he taught me to hold to, he was so special to me.
My dad was a runner, he was the very first person I ever knew who ran. He trained all the time, all year. I didn’t understand it as a child, but as an adult I can look back and remember him going to run the lake. I couldn’t run then, I didn’t even want to. My heart murmur prevented me from feeling well enough to run. I had passed out a couple times and was afraid to run even a little bit. The first time I got an ambulance called I was on my high school track “running” the mile. I dropped the idea of playing sports in high school after and replaced the love with fear. Pretty crazy how when my life got really tough in KY, years later, I found the track comforting. At some point I realized I could control my therapy by getting out of my head and onto my feet.
With all my running for the last almost 5 years, I have developed a way to go distances and breathe through every minute of my run, I pray. I put my playlist on, I choose songs that match my pace or lyrics that match what battle I am facing in my mind and talk to God. While I was back in GA, I ran almost every day. There was so much I needed to purge and so many people around, I couldn’t wait until my miles. I felt like I could connect with my dad by doing the things that made him proud. He loved my passion for fitness, he always told me how proud he was of me. He even promised to be at my half marathon cheering me on when he got in town. He was in town the summer of my second half, but had to leave a few days before and missed seeing me race. He didn’t make the race and it happened to be Father’s Day weekend. So I ran for him.
The new energy I had, that support system was now gone and my shoes didnt feel as comfortable on my feet and I just couldn’t get out of my head enough to stay motivated. So I took almost 3 months off of running and sought out new ways to find peace.
Aside for the fact, that I have running to help burn off the pain, I found a new found love for the water. I haven’t been really big on oceans, pretty much my whole life. It was my dad’s thing he loved to surf and swim, he spent years of his life in shark infested California and Georgia waters. He didn’t fear death, as a matter of fact he told me a few weeks before that he was tired. His body was fighting him and he was working so hard, to make pretty much nothing. So when I am near water now, I try to remember that God’s time is not a coincidence, it is rest. True peace is only found in him, and even though my heart hurts a little less near the beach, I know it is temporary.But the water does help soothe for a little while. Long enough to remember how much he loved the ocean.I can’t explain the pain I feel, I probably shouldn’t even try, but I feel like I need to talk about him, so I don’t forget him. I feel like no matter what I do I will keep forgetting every day until a memory of him pops into my mind to open a wound in my heart. I have spent the last few months crying and being angry. Feeling cheated and depressed. I had almost given up on all my goals, I quit running, put the weights down, stopped studying for my CPT( certified personal trainer), and even quit working out, aside from yoga. I have spend time in nature, not because I love nature and am a hiker, but because I wasn’t stuck inside a house crying because my heart hurts so bad. I was living and breathing and taking advantage of finding my own love and way for my kids to connect with me, someday when I go to heaven. Maybe it will be running, maybe it will be yoga, even the great outdoors. I sure hope it won’t be the hurtful memories they cling to.
So for now on, I am going to get back to my goal (my dad was so proud of them) and make my life and my family life a story worth telling. I can only ask that God give me plenty more years with them all to do so. And with that said, I have decided to seek therapy in sweat (runs, weights, yoga, and training) and let the salt water and tears come and come as only God can control. Because I know there are plenty of hard days ahead for my mom, my sisters, and I, to lean on the Lord and his healing.
My mom is still very vulnerable, she reminded me of all the days she missed with him, she had been in Washington for almost 6 weeks before he passed away to get them a house and her a job. She missed their 38th anniversary because she was here with me, helping me through my marital issues. I feel so selfish, I took precious time from her, his last days she should have been with him. She should have been able to kiss him goodbye before he went to work that morning. Constantly plaguing me. What could be more tragic? The day after my dad passed away, was his birthday he would have been 58. So I know understand that every minute we have with those we love are limited and need to be held precious. I wish I could give her back that time, or say something to her to take her pain away, but the truth is, she has to find her healing. She will mourn in her own time, just like I am. We can do it together. She made the choice to go ahead with the move to Washington (her home) and let their Georgia home go ( her friends are renting it) and try to finish the plans they had started. -move to WA, get jobs, and live near family- except now she temporarily possibly permanently lives with me. It has been a hard transition for us all. But we are family. All we have is each other. We will all have to set daily goals to relearn to function and then build upon those to start a new set of routines, but it will eventually get easier, with work. Our hearts are hurting and everyday is another day further from his laugh and closer to forgetting a memory, but if we stick together we can keep his memory alive and make all his dreams of success and closeness to be obtainable. He deserves for us to all try to love the lives we have, that he helped create. No matter how hard or how we each mourn differently, we have to stick together.
That horrible Monday is over and there are hundreds more to make better. But I am not sure my momma will ever truly like Monday again.xoxo
Sweat ’til You Shine,
Scott Mortensen May 24, 1958- May 23, 2016