I kept the compressions going, more out of despair and unbelief than out of hope.
I was relieved when my wife, who called 911, could also find our neighbor, who is a doctor. He came over and started walking from mouth to mouth. He took two breaths and then counted me down on the compressions.
The paramedics soon arrived. The defibrillator gave a high squeak when it was charging. A medic told everyone to "Clear!" Papa didn't answer.
Dad coded four more times in the hospital. Between the third and fourth time, they thought they had a sustained heartbeat and took me into the room. He was not conscious. I whispered in his ear again and again: "I love you. We pray for you. "Three nurses monitored his pulse, one on his neck, one on his left wrist and the other at his feet. The one on his neck said," We are losing it; we lose it ”and I was wiped out of the room.
Eventually he was stabilized, but he had to go into a coma and be intubated. A cardiologist brought me and my wife back to see him. I read the names of the drugs in the sachets over his bed: adrenaline, noradrenaline, vasopressin, amiodarone, propofol, fentanyl, a dozen more. The tube in his mouth trembled to the rhythm of every breath the machine made for him.
For days we weren't sure if Dad would live or if he would ever be himself again. He stayed in the intensive care unit for a week and then for another week in a room in the heart wing of the hospital. A month later, a cardiac surgeon installed a pacemaker defibrillator.
Doctors used words like "miracle" for the fact that dad was alive, especially since he was cognitively intact. No doubt his life was saved by modern medicine; through the quick action of doctors, nurses and medics; from my neighbor; and in a way he regrets this genre of pop music that inspired Bob Ross hairstyles, platform shoes and polyester pants.
I'm not sure what hell or heaven looks like, but I'm glad it wasn't the day Dad found out. With all the faith of a loving son, I am sure that when this day comes for him, hopefully Papa will wake up in the glory of heaven sometime in the future and not in a burning disco inferno.
Donovan McAbee is a poet and essayist working on a spiritual treatise.