Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My Tragedy

What I thought was going to be the beginning of a good year in 2008 took a very wrong turn and began with tragedy. My father, Phill Lang (46), and I were very close. I was a definite daddy's girl. When I was a little girl and even at my age now. When I was younger, we did everything together. Whether it was going to an amusement park, softball games, pools, parks, or anything fun we did it together. My father was an alcoholic for as long as I can remember. He always had his own issues good or bad but for him, they were mostly bad. Though he had his own issues, he always seemed to still be willing to help me out with mine, along with everyone else (if he could). He got hurt at work and slipped a disk in his neck. He had five neck surgeries all within a ten year span and was on a bunch of pain medicine. As I got older, my father and I had our moments of more bad then good. Whether it was arguments or fighting, something was always going on. I only focus on the good at this point. The past few years, we got even closer because I was legally able to drink with him. I was at his house every weekend, even though I had a place of my own. I stayed at his house at least one night out of the weekend and always threw parties over there. Every football or basketball game that was important to us (Browns or The Cavs) we had a party with tons of food and alcohol. There was never a dull moment at his house. My dad was my best friend, and the best dad that anyone could ever have.

It was a normal weekend at Dad's, Easter weekend as a matter of fact. My brother, Dustin (D), was having a big sleepover party at Dad's house with all of his friends. It was an all weekend thing! Dustin and all his friends are under age, so my dad said that this was a one time thing. No one was allowed to leave or drive anywhere that night. D wanted me to come to his party because this was the first big party he ever threw. I ended up showing up really late on Saturday night around 11:30 or so. I pulled in the driveway and got out of the car with my boyfriend (at the time) Nick. Just then, I saw two kids drinking in the front yard. They ran into the house. I was so mad! I got in the house and started yelling at all these kids that were acting all foolish. I asked D where dad was, he said that he wasn't sure. I told D that some of his friends were drinking in the front yard and that dad could get in a lot of trouble if the cops came. D told me that he had tried to get everyone to settle down, but no one would listen. Some of these kids were out of control! A couple were running around the house screaming and throwing things. While others were in the garage blazing the music extremely loud. There were girls that were only fourteen years old that had mouths worse than me and boys that were trying to fight. I got everyone together and told them that if people didn't start being responsible that I would start calling parents. Everyone settled down after that, for the most part.

Deep down inside I was starting to get worried because I had no idea where my dad was. I went back to the back room to look for my dad. To my surprise, he was in there having sex with his girl friend, Michelle. I started to freak out on him! I remember saying some really nasty things to him. I was so upset that I was shaking. I felt like I wanted to get sick. I remember saying, "How the hell can you be in here having sex when you have minors drinking in your house, are you trying to go to jail?" I got no answer, not even an acknowledgement from either of them. I said, "Fine, I'm leaving hope you have fun then and don't go to jail. I love you" and walked out. I was so disappointed! I stayed for a little while longer keeping D company and making sure everything was under control. I was going to stay there that night, but me as upset as I was didn’t' want to risk getting into trouble. So I left and went home to go to bed.

Easter Sunday about 9 am, I got a phone call from D. I said, "Why the hell you calling me so early?" All he could say is, "Dad's dead." I said, "You're fucking with me right", he said it again, and I said the same thing. He said it again, and he started to cry. I knew then that he wasn't joking. I felt so much confusion and so much anger. For the first time in my life, I didn't know what to do with myself. I told D that I was on my way over there. I dropped to my knees, threw my phone, and started screaming with tears running down my face. Nick came upstairs to check and see what was wrong. I couldn't talk; I was crying so hard it hurt to breath. I was finally starting to settle down and told him what had happened. He just held me and wouldn't let me go. I finished getting clothes on, and we raced out the door. It took Nick and I twenty minutes from our place in Concord to Dad's house in Madison. I cried the whole way there!

Nick and I pulled down the street and saw the ambulance and a bunch of people in the front yard. We had to park in the Krouse's (the next door neighbors) drive way. I got out of the car and walked towards the house. My Aunt Nancy, Uncle Jeff, The Krouse's, and all of Dustin's friends were there. I walked in the house, and there was my brother, in tears, face bright red, just bawling. I went straight over to him and hugged him, not letting go. We just cried on each other’s shoulders! I asked D where dad was he said, "Dad's still here." To my surprise, he was still in the house, lying on the floor of the garage. I was horrified, but at the same time I wanted to say good-bye to him! I tried walking into the garage and turned right around and broke down, falling on my knees. I just couldn't do it! I walked out into the living room, and Michelle was hyperventilating. I tried calming her down by holding her, and it just wasn't working. The EMS had to put her on an oxygen tank to help her breath. It started to work slowly, but she was still shaking horribly. My Aunt Maryanne and Uncle Jimmy showed up at this point, trying to comfort me and D. Uncle Jeff told me that he called Grandpa Karl and K (grandpa's girlfriend), and that they were coming up from Florida. He also called Aunt Val (dad's sister) and Uncle Bill (Val's husband), and they were coming up from Boston. I called my mom (Laurie) and my step-dad (Mark) to tell them the news. My mother was hysterical! She was more worried about D and I, but I could tell she was still heartbroken to hear what happened to dad, too.

Dustin had to start packing up his friends things that were in the garage; he asked me to help him. I was scared! I didn't want to go back near the garage, but I did it for my brother. We both walked into the garage; I was holding D's hand, and I didn't want to let go. There was our father, lying there with a white blanket over his body. I wanted to try and see him again. I dropped to the floor and moved the blanket. The EMS had put tape over his eyes and mouth, and I'll never forget the black stain next to his head. I lost it; I just didn't know how to it deal with it. D helped me up, and I helped him get as much of the stuff together as possible. Finally, the EMS was done getting everything together that they needed. The coroner ambulance pulled up to pick up Dad and take him to examine his body. Things got a little fuzzy to remember at this point because I was hysterical when they were getting him ready. Dad was gone, and what I thought was the worst part to be over; I felt things were only going to get worse! Phill Lang died March 23, 2008!

After the ambulance was gone, I sat down with D and asked him what had exactly happened. He told me when I left that night everyone was starting to settle down for bed. People were setting up air mattresses in the garage and getting ready to lie down. D told me that dad must have come to lay down with him while he was sleeping. He said when he woke up in the morning dad was purple and wasn't breathing. D jumped up and got Michelle. She started freaking out and tried doing CPR. That wasn't working, so she started pounding on his chest. I guess they both heard something pop, and black stuff started coming out of his mouth (that's where the stain came from). Both Michelle and D came to realize that nothing was working and that he was gone. One of D's friends said that he left the house at 6:30 am and dad was still snoring. D said that when he woke up at 8:00 am, he was gone. When I talked to the EMS before they left they had told me Dad didn’t take any more of his pills then he was suppose to. So no one knew for sure why or how he died and that we wouldn't hear anything from the coroner for at least a week or two. When we finally heard back almost two weeks later from the coroner, the test came back that he had mixed some of his prescription drugs that weren't to be mixed together.

There are things that happen in life that are very sudden and tragic. People learn and grow through these tragedies. I still think about my father, and all the good times we had together. It still hurts me every day to know that he can't be here with me! Looking at what happened to my dad made me realize that life is too short, and we need to live life day by day as it could be your last. He gave me the inspiration to push myself hard for the future, and fight for what I want. My father's death opened my eyes to look at life in a different way. It changed the way I want to raise my daughter (Alexis). I take my time with her more seriously. I cut back on my drinking habit, and now I only do that on occasions. Now, I'm in school (again) for nursing and have more goals to work for (now more than ever). I know what I want out of life, and I know he's watching over me supporting me in every way.


  1. I know that you are coming up on the anniversary of your father's death. You will be in my thoughts and prayers. What a cute picture.

    Dr. Jayne

  2. Your stories are very true. Sometimes when we have our own space it helps us get stronger. Realizing what is ahead is sometimes difficult. Hang in there,
    My prayes will be there for you,