I've talked about them a lot in my blog but I can't recall if I ever explained what exactly happened to them. I got the call around 1 a.m. They were found in their bedroom in their house in Tunis, Tunisia. After a couple of days of thorough investigation in and around their home, the cause of death was determined to be carbon monoxide poisoning. It was the water heater. I cannot begin to describe what it was like coming face-to-face with that machine. I wanted to tear it from the wall and smash it to pieces.
For those of you that don't know, carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas. Surprisingly, it is the second leading cause of poisoning deaths in the country. Carbon monoxide poisoning claims nearly 500 lives and another 15,000 require emergency room treatment per year.
After they died, I sent emails out to everyone I knew encouraging them to check the detectors in their homes and their families’ homes. I know that many went out immediately and purchased them for themselves and their loved ones. Now, I continue to talk openly about this in hopes of encouraging others to install carbon monoxide detectors in their homes. When I moved to LA, I immediately got one for my house.
More and more lately, I'm starting to really miss being a 'daughter'. I miss saying, "Mom, can you help me with this?" Or "Dad, what do you think I should do?" I simply miss calling out "Mom" and "Dad". I miss hearing my mom talk to me about my dad and referring to him as "Daddy". It was really cute and sweet. I miss that advice that only a parent can give a daughter. I can't help but wonder, am I still a 'daughter'? Does that role still exist for me? I certainly don't feel like it anymore. Perhaps being a sister, an aunt, a niece and a friend should be enough but it just isn't. I just want to be my parents daughter. I want to overhear them talking to people about their 'daughter', Leah. No one says my name or will say my name quite like them.
I know it's only natural but right after they died, I instantly felt younger than I've felt in a very long time. The independent nature that I'd acquired somewhat in college quickly fell away and I found myself longing to be held, to be cared for, to be tucked in at night and to be told that everything was going to be alright. These are all the things that my parents would do for me. Suddenly, I knew that I was never going to feel as protected as they made me feel and that tore me apart.
3 years may seem like a lot of time but honestly, the hole in my heart is still as empty and painful as the day I found out 3 years ago. I doubt that will ever go away. This may sound odd but there is a small part of me that hopes that hole never heals. I don't want to ever get past their deaths. What would that mean if that were to happen one day? I know that when I fall in love and have children, it certainly will be filled but I hope that I'm never 'ok' that they are gone.
I am incredibly grateful to my sister for always being there for me. She is right there with me through the tears, the sad dreams, the phone calls and for sad days like today. We will be spending the day together as we've promised to do from now on. I certainly can't imagine going through it alone.
I don't want this to be a sad post but more of a reminder to you to cherish your loved ones. Cherish your parents. Cherish your siblings. Cherish your friends. Tell each and every one of them how much they mean to you. If I had one more day to spend with my parents, that's all I would do.