Column: Mental pain is a choice

David C. Ridings, Staff Writer

It was my choice to be there. The solidarity of the concrete was questionable. Weightlessness rushed over my body as the tunnel vision collapsed into a tight spiral. At the center of the Ridings_davidvortex was my father who just had his final heartbeat.

The machines buzzed as the nurses stopped CPR to shut off the annoying sounds as they proceeded with their protocol. They showed no negative emotion other than a synthetic type of joy that only comes to those who are calloused to witnessing the death of another.

Moments later the doctor approached wearing a mask that all doctors have to wear as they break the news all dread to hear. He told me that my dad was gone and they did all they could do.

The walk from the ICU to the waiting room was seemingly endless and certainty was nowhere to be found. I made eye contact with a family who still had a shed of hope and the pain in my eyes contagiously crept into their hearts from the brief moment we had passed. After they moved past me they had willingly forgotten the sight just witnessed for they had their own obstacle to climb and the expression I wore was nothing less than depressing.

I spent nearly ten minutes taking my thirty-yard walk to my family as I cautiously planned my next course of action. This man I had to be was left with no choice but to emerge from these halls and hold it together as the doctors and nurses had done minutes prior.

I felt myself touch down for the first time in over thirty minutes as I opened the door from the halls into the room where sat a few people who would change forever after hearing my news I had. I let them know the news with a smile, as if everything was alright. This was the way my dad would have wanted us to feel.

After I let the family in on the news, I left to go find out when we could see the body. The nurses were cleaning and wrapping up the hollow shell of a man in blankets as I walked in with my mother. The nurses left and didn’t make any eye contact as we walked past them. I didn’t speak to the corpse. I didn’t feel the presence of my father what so ever. There were only two people in the room. After my mother had her last words as if they were her first, I kissed the cold forehead of a corpse and staggered out at a pace suited for slugs.

I promised my dad when I was younger that I would allow him to help me after he had passed away. He didn’t mean this in any spiritual sense, yet more so that he will leave me with lessons I needed in order to help me grasp the point of the harder lessons of life. All tears were held at this moment for it wasn’t my turn to mourn.

When I made it home, I went on the roof and had a cigarette as I heard people cry and talk below me. I felt like I was holding my tears like I was holding my breath, so I finally took a deep breath of self-pity. I finally had a moment to mourn yet I didn’t think sympathy for oneself was very appealing. I again had the choice to dwell in pain or see what just happened as a part of life. This was life I was experiencing; it was a heavy dose.

When existing becomes painful, be sure to understand that mental pain is really a choice. Showing my family the face of a new me that was accepting of the events that took place helped them gain balance and a foundation.

The demeanor carried over and never really shook off. I made a choice that day to be in good spirits; if it’s sadness you want, it’s sadness you choose. You can never remain idle in this life so don’t let the end of another’s hinder your own. If all becomes too much to handle, just remember you are alive and you have a choice.