My dad had a stroke when I was 6 years old…

Yesterday I went to my friends house to catch up and when we do we always talk about some cool stuff.

My friend Kevin brought up an interesting perspective on traumas. That sometimes people experience a trauma and during this event their spirits leave their bodies for a period of time so they don’t have to feel or witness what is going on. Even though they may spiritually leave their bodies…. their body is still holding on to the experience. He said we could be walking around with those feelings and memories in our bodies even though we can’t really remember them.

He brought up the time that I found my dad having a stroke while we was gardening in the backyard, I was six by the way. When I left their house and as I was driving back home, I decided to tap into my body and see what I remembered from that experience.

When I went through everything I remembered, it felt like I was drunk. I could only remember a couple of things and then it felt like I blacked out. AND some of the memories feel more like a photograph, I remember some motion/movement but it was mainly like I took a photo and that’s the only thing I remember, a snapshot.

For instance, my dad and I had a few photos of us gardening together or when I would join him outside. To be honest, I don’t remember physically being in the garden with him, it feels like I created memories with the photos but my body sort of locked them all away when he had the stroke. After that we barely or ever gardened again because he was in therapy or in the house recovering. And now thinking about it, he may even has stayed away from gardening himself in general because of what the doctors said. I believe they said it was because it was too hot and he should have taken more breaks.

As I was proofreading, something else came up. Some of the photos I have with him, I’m actually dressed up and I know my mom probably didn’t want me to get dirty. I wonder if I even really got into gardening with my dad? What if I just enjoyed watching him garden but I never really got my hands in the dirt? I’ll have to ask my mom now!!!

Okay…. so this is what I remember and what I don’t remember from the experience. I was inside the house and I believe my mom told me to bring my dad some fruit. As I was walking through the backyard to get to the front yard, I heard my dad yelling either my name or my mom’s name “LILY!! LILY!”. I’m sure he was frightened, I don’t recall his face, I don’t remember running inside the house to tell my mom, I don’t remember my mom calling 911. I don’t remember what is was like waiting with him while the ambulance came.

I honestly don’t remember if I felt scared. I think that I was in shock. When I found him, I’m not even sure if I stopped and was confused, I feel like I needed to act quickly but not sure if I even did. My friend mentioned going into the feeling and sitting with it but I honestly don’t know how I felt. It all happened so fast…. I think.

What I do remember is being by the front drive way seeing my dad leave in the ambulance. I just saw it driving away down the street. Honestly, wow… I don’t know if we went to the hospital, I don’t know what my mom was feeling or said to me. The only memory I have after this was bringing my dad to his therapy sessions and seeing how he had to be in a wheelchair and needed to learn to walk and move his hands. He ended up having a limp on one side of his body when he walked and needed a cane at times and it was difficult for him to hold some things.

My dad also dressed very neat, fancy, he was always in a button down long sleeve and some nice ass slacks or if he was working he would be wearing a suit. When we was recovering he was always in these grey sweats, like all the time. My mom told me that when he dressed up again I said something like this but in Spanish, “I like daddy better when he dresses nice.” I’m assuming that was my way of saying I miss my dad.

Gosh I wonder what I was walking around with as a child and even now. What stories I created after finding my father having a stroke. I even wonder if my experience in life also changed seeing my dad as this strong man and then seeing him need help to use the restroom, to walk, even talk.

I saw my dad physically weaker. This must have been from watching tv or something but I would create these stories, like what if a bad person tried to mess with my dad, I didn’t think my dad would be able to defend himself or he would fall easily, so I needed to be the super hero. I mean I was young but I was already thinking if anyone tried to mess with my dad they were going to have to go through me! (I’m crying. Mainly because I didn’t want to actually feel that way about my dad.)

My dad was so strong mentally, emotionally, spiritually. He held it down for our family. Like he had some fucking tough skin. He moved to the US from Argentina not knowing where it would lead him. Eventually met my mom years later in New York, got married, they got pregnant and this GUY, my dad went looking for a place for us to live in Florida. Two months after I was born we all moved to Florida. This man took risks. My dad had a huge freaking heart and he was so giving but he also did not give a flying crap what you thought about him, he was going to do his thing what he thought was best.

Also, my mom is a strong woman too and didn’t take his crap. They challenged each other in a good way.

AH! Talking about my mama. She is a strong woman and I’m sure she was upset when my dad left in the ambulance but I do not remember crying and I do not remember my mother crying to be honest. It’s like she held it all in to be strong for me? Who knows? Now, I think I know why for a long time I wouldn’t show to my emotions when things happened in my life. I was pretty neutral whether it was exciting news or not so good news, I was like eh cool, moving on.

I was thinking back to when the doctors said that when he was outside gardening, it was too hot and that he should have taken breaks or have had more water. I have noticed the last few times I have attempted to garden, I get very hot and get dizzy and I tell myself I need a break. I bet that, that experience has something to do with it. That what I heard and saw was imprinted in my body.

Now, what is the gift that this experience gave to me?

I get to have a more intentional relationship with plants and gardening? I get to see my dad as this strong amazing man that he is and that even though it made him physically “weaker” that this experience actually made him spiritually, mentally and emotionally stronger and even more present in our lives? That I actually get to feel and express all my emotions? I get to release the stories I created and live authentically? I get to be thankful that my dad survived and stayed with us for another like 20 years?

I’m sure there are several more gifts that this has gifted me and I’m sure I will think of more after I am done writing this.

WOW, that was also the first time my dad ever cried out for help. For the first 6 years of my life, he was there for me and cared for me when I needed help. I even wonder how that felt for me seeing my father uncomfortable.

I’m sure gifts will also show up in even later in my life. For instance, what if when I have children, myself or their father is crying out for help. I get to feel and share my emotions and also remember not to be in fear. I also get to ask my children, how they are doing, what they are feeling, help them understand for themselves what is going on. AND I get to surrender because I’m me and I am going to do the best I can to be there for myself and my family.

Thank you dad and mom for signing this contract with me. For choosing me to be your child and that I got to choose you as my parents. And as scary and uncomfortable as that experience may have been, thank you. We all showed up just how we needed to at that time.

It’s just a reminder that I get to experience life and that I get to love, have forgiveness, compassion and understanding.

AND thank for you friends, family, loved ones that bring up beautiful perspectives and views and that hold such sacred space for me to go into things and feel so safe to do so. I never would have thought that I would feel so blessed and safe to feel into an experience that many probably wouldn’t want to remember and that I get to open up these amazing gifts that were actually provided for me.

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