Coming from the same title and one of the best Nine Inch Nails songs to date, and like that song, this blog is about loss. The loss of someone dear to us, a loss that seemingly brought our world to an end, a loss that is marked by the event in which the day the whole world went away. Memorial Day has two meanings for me now, it serves as a day to remember the men and women who gave their lives for this country, but now it holds a whole new meaning for me, the day my father passed away.
My father was everything to me, and from a young age he taught all of his children to be truthful with everything in life. I’ve built my career on being truthful, admitting to the pain and anguish that seems to permeate my life and taking what destroys others and building the future with it. I kept this idea with my pain following the unexpected death of my mother and now reluctantly, I’m doing the same with this new pain following my father’s death. This blog I will talk about my father, his passing, and the next projects that are currently being built. I wish this was a blog I would never have to write, but try as I may, the slower I write this, the more I realize he really, truly is gone. He always told his children to be open and honest with everything, so in his honor I will be open and honest about the man who gave so much, who is responsible for my being in this career.
5.27.2017 I’m having dinner after talking with my producing partner, Cody Sparshu, about our upcoming film projects, when out of nowhere my oldest sister gives me a call. A call which changed everything. She would go on to tell my that my father was unable to speak properly, and could barely understand where he was and that he was shaking uncontrollably. She was his caretaker. I told her to hang up and call 911. Not more than two minutes later, her boyfriend calls me and tells me that “He’s fine.” after hanging up with him, I called my little sister and had her go over and check on my father, as I am 500 miles away. Emily arrived, immediately called me and told me “I’ve called 911, something is really wrong.”
My father was rushed to the hospital. Unbeknownst to any of us, this was to be the last time he would see his house.
5.28.2017 early in the morning, my little sister calls me from the hospital, and tells me that he’s been moved into the Intensive Care Unit, and that the doctor wanted to speak to me. In talking to the doctor, he tells me cryptically “You need to get to Reno, as fast as you can. This isn’t going to end well.” So I hang the phone up, grab Zarah and our dog, pack up just enough clothing to survive me a day and we haul ass as fast as we can to Reno. This is the longest drive of my life, and is only punctuated by all the regretful memories of past transgressions, the happiest moments that I want to capture and hold onto, each memory passing by with each tick of the odometer in the truck he gave to me.
We arrived in town and immediately went to the hospital where I met my older sister Carrie and little sister Emily, both looking like their souls were crushed; my older sister and her boyfriend, my father’s caretaker are not here. Without having to say a word, I know the outlook is grim, so I head upstairs to my father’s ICU room and I am greeted by the sight that is forever burned into my psyche. My father lying in bed, completely reliant upon the machines that are keeping him alive, and unable to open his eyes or speak. I broke down. I couldn’t help it.
The man that gave up so much for his children for his wife, was now on the narrow precipice between life and death struggling to keep his balance. All I could do was hold his hand and weep, my father deserved better than this. His nurse came into the room and told me that his kidneys were both dead, and that his body was fighting a war with aggressive Sepsis (Septic Shock) and that he was losing. I could only stare, hoping against hope, that somehow, someway, he’ll find a way to survive. My sisters came into the room, and reiterated what the nurse told me. I hugged them and told them we need to honor his wishes, which brought everyone to tears.
We left the hospital and while my sisters and Zarah went to Emily’s, I went to my father’s place to talk with my oldest sister and her boyfriend. When I walked into his apartment, I was finally able to see the house he was living in. It smelled, it was grimy, dirty and disgusting and entering his room, I was mortified.
I told them to find a way to the hospital in the morning, told them were meeting his doctor and ordered them to start cleaning his apartment.
5.29.2017 The Day The Whole World Went Away
We arrived at the hospital exactly 30 minutes early, and we waited for the doctor. My father was lucid at this point, but still barely able to formulate a sentence and he couldn’t control his body like he would want to, but he was able to joke around, we were able to talk with him share these moments with him. To our annoyance, the doctor was late, and then again was late to the new adjusted appointment time, and this began to annoy me, as I wanted to know his prognosis. What I didn’t realize until days later, was that this doctor gave my entire family a gift. The gift of two more hours with my father. Two hours I will cherish to the day I ultimately leave this world.
We got to make him laugh, make him forget the pain, we got to hear his voice one last time. All of his daughters were finally here. They got to talk with him. I would hold my father’s hand, he let go after an hour and was barely able to say the words, “Go, leave.” I leaned down and asked him again, he said “Go.” I told him we would leave after the Doctor’s visit. Both he and I knew what he was trying to do. When the doctor finally arrived, and my world began to fall to shambles. The Doctor confirmed every nightmare I’ve ever had, my father was dying and based on his medical prognosis, my father would not last the night.
I had to make the decision for my father to move him to hospice care, which he would not make it to. Breathing became my ability to control things in a time where God took control of everything. Everybody wept, I consoled my sisters, and I asked them to leave the room. Carrie refused to leave, once everybody was gone except for Carrie and I, I held my father’s hand again, leaned down and kissed his forehead and told him that he was dying and that it was okay to let go, and that I would take care of his daughters for him. After composing myself, Carrie spoke with him and I had the others come into the room and speak to him. The room was dark and heavy.
We met outside in the hallway, and I told the girls we’d be going to lunch to get out from the hospital. My father was always the person who never wanted his children to suffer, and he would often take us out to places to during a stressful time. I wanted to carry on this tradition. Throughout this time, all I could think of, naturally, was him and the memories we shared. Memories that were just that, phantoms of our past. I could see the look in everybody’s eyes, one that told me I should take them back to the hospital, even at 9pm at night and have each and every one of us say our final goodbyes.
We get to the hospital, and walk into his ICU room and its startling, there is no electric hum of machines, no puff of the ventilator. My father was laying in his bed, asleep unable to wake up. The nurse would tell me that they stopped everything and that they are about to take him off his oxygen, the rest got into the room and for the first time in 3 years we saw him without an oxygen mask. The room felt lighter, calmer, almost as if filled with uncompromising love. My sisters, my one year old nephew and Zarah were holding his hands, tears flowing freely, telling stories of him, when I finally came to the realization of what was happening.
(This photo brings me to tears every time. My little nephew Dillie and my father just five hours before he would pass)
I told them that the room feels lighter, to which they agree, and then I make the admission to them “Mom’s come for him. He’s not going to survive the night.” Everybody weeps even more, but I knew this with every fiber of my being, the room was too peaceful for it not to be true. I let each of them have alone time with him, and I waited in the waiting room, but Emily refused to leave. I had to go get her, she did not want our father to die alone. Our father was the man who shielded his children from pain, and even to his dying breath, he fought to protect his children from the pain of watching him die. I reminded them he asked us to leave, was not coincidence, but it was truly his dying wish. He wished with his last breaths to shield his children from this pain.
After a solemn moments break, I headed back into the room, by myself, I held his hand, felt his heartbeat under his wrist and talked with him even though he couldn’t wake up. This conversation is to remain between a father and his son. I kissed his forehead, and stopped in the doorframe of the room, as I did with my mother, told him that “I love him dearly.”
Even now I am writing this through a veil of tears, and this is truthfully why I could not record this blog as a video, because this hole in my life is too much. Like in his life, he cared for his children, loved his family, and lived life on his own terms, his death was on his own terms. Three hours after we left him, he straightened himself up in his bed, (a feat not easily done, because of his spasms) and was asleep, dreaming of his family when he reunited my mother. He was finally whole again, finally without pain, and with the love of his life.
We weep, and the angels rejoice, because one of their angels have returned to them. This is the natural order as my parents would explain it to us. My father meant the world to me, was one of the first two people to support my goals, my hopes, my dreams, and he would personify the old phrase of giving you the shirt off his back, except he did this for everyone of his children, and his is one of the biggest reasons my career is where it is at. I miss this man unbelievably, but I know where he’s at, is a better place.
My family and myself will see to it that his legacy is lived through one another, as we live our lives on our terms, in our own ways, giving our gifts to the world and I know right now, my father, is looking down on me telling me “Enough with the sadness, party like a rockstar.” so in his honor, I will celebrate life, rather than mourning his death, by doing what he fought for me to do, create. Out of 6+ billion people on this planet, I got to be my father’s son, which is one of the greatest things I could have ever been.
Love you immensely, Pops!
As a child I started with filmmaking at a young age, as a way to help my mother escape her chemotherapy treatment, little did I know, that these new worlds I would create, would become almost a form of therapy for me. Right now, this is more self evident than ever before. Because with every word that is laid on the page, every storyboard drawn, every audition performed, every shot photographed, I am able to cope with these interminable losses.
Partnering up with the amazing and talented, Cody Sparshu, we have begun to bring these next stories of mine to the big screen. What these are, we cannot tell you just yet, but what I can tell you is that these stories are near and dear to my heart. Everything has lined up, so now all we have to do is make them and bring you into these worlds.
In other film news, my film, The Astronaut, which is all about the relationship my father and I shared is set to be released through Amazon! I was fortunate enough to be able to tell my father before he died that our story would be seen by people from around the world. One of my greatest memories was finally being able to show him the finished film! I absolutely cannot wait to show the world this! I’ll update more on this at schumacher.com/theastronaut
As a child, I would delve into the worlds of of novels, video games, comics, and movies, and these are the first mediums that got me interested in writing new worlds, new adventures. So as the years continued to move forward, I would write more and more. My first comic book I created was Inheritance, a book that had a cinematic tone and horror that was palpable with the stories that were born from my personal tragedy. Inheritance would go on to sell out comic con after comic con, attract media attention, and connect to people in a way the few comics do.
So following Inheritance, I wanted to create a new comic book that would take the qualities of Inheritance and blow them completely out of the water. A story that would prove prophetic to my life, a story that began work a couple weeks before my father passed away. This comic book is Through The Witches.
Set in the colonial America’s, Through The Witches is a story of failing to face down the threat that is right in front of your face, and intuition giving way to supplication, little did I know how prophetic this book would prove to be in my life. While I haven’t released anything on this story yet, it’s lining up to be an absolutely amazing comic book, with artist Marco Roblin’s amazing artwork and Dezi Sienty (DC’s Justice League, Batman), lettering abilities Through The Witches is lining up to be stellar.
Through The Witches shows you the dark side of each other, and our complete and total inhumanity towards one another. Through The Witches is the antithesis of Inheritance and I absolutely cannot wait to showcase to you this incredible book.
Finally to keep this blog from going too long, I wanted to talk about a topic many have asked me about. My tattoos. While some may go to a shop and get flash, I chose to mark my body with my story. What’s on the outside is what’s reflective on the inside. The day after my father passed away, my sisters and I got tattoos to remember his life. I got Pops tattooed on my left hand, my sister Carrie on her ribs, Emily right above her ankle. My father always joked that I needed to stop corrupting his daughters with tattoos, so to have all of us get tattoos, he’d probably be having a laugh.
Tattoos for me are a form of therapy and expression. It’s always helped me with pain. My entire right arm’s tattoos are a memorial to my mother, her philosophy, her essence, all of it is her. My left arm was started while my father was alive, and now since his passing I’ve decided to get it finished, starting with the top of my hand and working my way up.
So as I close this blog, I wanted to thank each and everyone of you for your love, your support and your kindness. It has meant the world to me. And now, mid way through 2017, I’ve decided to turn everything I have, everything I am, into these projects, to drive so hard into my career that my parents only have the recourse of grabbing Johnny Cash, Stanley Kubrick and Rod Serling and say “Look at our son!”
Our time is short, it indeed is very limited in the grand scheme, so why waste it living the dogma of someone else? Go live your life as you would want it, make yourself the star of your own movie. I’m off to create these worlds with some amazing people!