It feels both like yesterday and yet forever ago at the same time. Its barely one year ago today, as Lee, Mom, and I sat making plans with the hospice nurse for your care. You were already slipping so quickly from life, but as long as you fought and as strong as your spirit was, we couldn't have known how quickly you'd leave us.
I go over and over the events of that day looking for the clues or signs we missed that July 5th was your last day on this earth. My mind fills with the sight of the big white and blue striped coffee mug meticulously filled with syringes of morphine by the nurse. You searched my face when she asked that we get you in bed. "Why," you said, "am I sick?" I faltered a minute before I said, "Well, we just think you ought to rest a bit." Who was I to crash reality down on you, when you had so bravely held it at bay?
After all, she told us. In a soft spoken, easy manner, she told us. You were in your final stages. Maybe days, maybe just a day or two. She had a comforting way about her and she put our minds at ease, even as you wrestled that day. You didn't want to lie in bed, you never lied down in your bed. You fought off the covers, kicking your legs out of the bed. You muttered and spoke things we couldn't quite make out. You brushed my hand away as I tried to lay my hand on your arm. But that mug filled with syringes- enough for a week- was where we set our eyes. We left you to rest.
My head was filled with what I would say, how I would provide comfort, the way in which you'd leave your place amongst us. We'd gather, we'd say our words. We planned- always a plan. But then I forgot the essence of who you were- and it always involved plans gone awry. Besides, clearly Dad, neither you, nor I, were ever really in charge of the plan. It frightened me, yet it comforted me. If not my hands, HIS hands, as I would come to see.
At sunset we stepped outside of the apartment for a quick breather. We stood in the driveway with our mouths agape, straining to see the glory painting the sky- blazing a trail straight up to heaven. Just hours later, as we gathered, not in your room, but just outside of it, you quietly slipped away from us. It was your way Dad. There was no bedside handholding, no words uttered, no tears shed-until we realized you had gone on ahead of us, without us.
I smile through the salt of my tears when I think about the way the sky lit up fire engine red and blaze orange, the night your soul went to heaven. You saved the best for last. It was a far better exit than I could have imagined or planned, and even in death you taught me.
Sometimes the purpose of a day is to merely feel our sadness, knowing that as we do, we allow whole layers of grief, like old skin cells to drop off us ~ Marianne Williamson
I sit here today with the lifesaving chemo drugs flowing through the needle sticking out of the port in my chest. I'm sitting with the sadness of missing you.
But, I've remembered to kick the covers off Dad.
To not spend too many days in bed.
To fight Dad, just as you fought.
With our heads up.
And to always look for the glory in the sunset.
I love you and miss you Dad,