15th Annual Smithsonian.com Photo Contest
The American Dream
My father passed away unexpectedly on May 4th, 2011. On May 3rd, a blood clot from a heart attack that he had suffered from days prior (none of us obviously had any clue that had happened) traveled to the base of his brain while he was stepping into the shower (he was getting ready for work). It was around 4:45am. I woke up to my mother screaming for me to call 911. He had collapsed in the tub after suffering a massive stroke from the blood clot. I mechanically moved everything out of the way for the paramedics while we waited for them to get there. The fire truck showed up first. When they pulled my father out of the tub and dragged him into the adjacent room, he had somehow slipped through their hands. I'll never forget the image and sound of my father's lifeless body falling to the floor, and the thud of his head when it hit. For months after, it was all I saw behind my eyelids when I closed my eyes.
After this happened, I immediately wondered how I would be able to step foot in my house ever again. How could I live in a place with this memory? A place I grew up in since birth, with so many good memories, smothered by the horrors of a traumatic death. As some of you may have experienced yourselves, I was out of my mind. You don't think and feel properly after something like that. I just couldn't stop thinking about my house. Even at the hospital, as my father died, I feared the future relationship between myself and my house. I remember, for a fleeting moment, wondering if there was a clever way I could set it on fire to make it look like an accident. Maybe we could just collect the insurance money and rebuild, or better yet, move.
I recently just divulged these feelings to my mother. I still live with her in the house. Time has passed and I have since healed, but I'll still never forget how it felt. This is a photo of my friend Lexy I took to visually best describe what that time was like for me.
© Karen Jerzyk.
All rights reserved.
||Aug. 9, 2017, 8:18 p.m.
||Canon EOS 5D Mark IV