Chapter 1

The last time I saw my dad alive was when I hugged him goodbye at the rehab center in Florida the summer of 2013. It was only my second visit down there to see my parents. The first time was to help them get settled into their new retirement home and have some family time with them while they set up their new life. The second time was to help my mom out while my dad voluntarily committed himself to a substance abuse rehabilitation clinic not far from where they set up their new home. It was not entirely voluntarily but with the intervention of my brothers, mom, aunt and uncle and grandparents we convinced my dad that he needed to do this. For his sake. For ours. For our family.

How was I to know that when I went down there on my second visit to see my mom and see my dad at the rehab that the last time I would hug him would be the last time ever? It didn't even dawn on me until a few weeks ago that the last time I saw him was that afternoon in the meeting room of the rehab clinic he was in. We spoke on the phone every day. We skyped. But the last time I physically saw my dad was in a fucking rehab. And he didn't get better! I never got to see him again. I miss him so much it takes my breath away. I have never experienced pain like this.

But then, sometimes the pain goes away a little. It dims. I get a reprieve. And then, it comes back all over again full force. No warning. Suddenly I have no control over my body and my tears and heartbeat and breathing. Nothing. I just collapse into a heap of nothing but pain and emptiness. And I just can't breathe. I can't see. I can't do anything. I gasp for air. I pray to the lord. I talk to my dad. It's beyond overwhelming. It feels endless. Endless pain.