It seemed like being diagnosed with multiple incurable chronic illnesses was as bad as life was ever going to get.
And then something worse happened.
On August 11th, there was widespread and terrible flooding in Michigan. I was out for dinner with my boyfriend to celebrate my 29th birthday, and when we arrived home, I started seeing all of this stuff about the flood on Facebook.
I texted my mom to see if my family was okay and she responded that she didn’t know where my dad was.
I descended into worry and despair like I have never felt before.
My dad was missing?
My dad worked about 45 minutes away from home, near an area that was experiencing the worst of the flooding. He texted my mom to say that he was trying to find higher ground and would contact her when he could.
At 6 a.m. on August 12th, my sister texted me to say that my dad never came home. My sister, my mom, and my aunt had already gone out looking for my dad. They didn’t really know where he last was, so they then enlisted the help of every area police department, although most would not take the missing concept seriously for 24 to 48 hours; even with the flooding and my mom explaining that my dad coming home even an hour late was totally out of the norm.
My dad ended up being found dead in his car. We found out about 24 hours after we hadn’t heard anything from him. He was in a safe neighborhood, in an area that was high and dry, so the exact circumstances around his death remain unknown, although there was no evidence of foul play.
My dad died on Tuesday and the funeral was Thursday, so despite my grief, my boyfriend and I had to make immediate arrangements to travel from New York to Michigan.
I spent the last two weeks in Michigan trying to come to terms with the horrible loss that my family suffered.
It still doesn’t seem real.
Given all of this, I would have expected to have a major flare, but that hasn’t happened.
And someone recently told me that they hope my illnesses are giving me a break during this difficult time. But honestly, I would welcome that pain. My emotional pain and physical pain would then match.
Right now, I’m trying to transition back into real life, and I am wishing that all of this was just some horrible nightmare, but it’s not.
Like I said, having lupus and RA was really the worst thing I could ever imagine having to deal with in my life. But this is so much worse, so much worse.
And right now, I can’t imagine – and hope I never have to find out – what is worse than this.
I dedicate this post to the memory of my dad:
Neal Barry Rott
December 17, 1951 – August 12, 2014