My mom and I sat at the end of his hospital bed. My brother had just left to take care of his young family and my mom and I remained. There was one dim light in the corner that cast shadows on his bed and our two chairs. The rest of the room was bathed in darkness. We sat for several hours as my dad continued to have small seizures. When we couldn’t bear to watch his suffering anymore, I had the night nurse call our doctor at home shortly after midnight to increase his morphine. The seizures stopped and both my mom and I silently counted the seconds between his breaths. The last time was 14 seconds and then he just stopped breathing. It was 2:00 am on March 9th, 2006.
It is a strange experience watching the life slip out of a body that once cradled you as a child and was always there with open arms. We said our goodbyes and I drove my mom home, neither of us crying because we wanted to be strong for the other.
It took a few months for me to be able to picture my dad as he was in life and not how he was in death. The body that we said goodbye to in the hospital was not my dad. My dad was the life of the party. He was charming and funny. The men loved to hang out with him and the women loved to dance with him.
Now when I think of my dad, the picture I have in my head is of his infectious smile and the mischievous twinkle in his eye. I think of him tanning in the nude at the end of our dock and using folding chairs for privacy as the boats went by our cottage. I think of our family spending time tanning on the ice in February when the sun’s warmth grew stronger. And I think of all the time my dad spent to try to make our lives happy. I miss you, dad.