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.
Wonderful – thank you for sharing. This is so beautiful. Watching a loved one leave is so very difficult but at the same time I think holds some kind of beauty in its release. I have lost many loved ones in similar ways, but have never been there at the moment when they took their final breath. Sometimes I wish I had. It’s almost a privilege I think and scary and heart wrenching all at the same time. It does take a while, sometimes years, to pull the good memories from the dark corners. And when they surface, we know the gift of having loved, been loved, laughed, cried through the journey of shared lives. Thank you for saying so eloquently your experiences of the harsh painful moments and then the joyful remembering. My heart goes out to you. We are all travelers.
Thank you so much for your lovely comments. I really appreciate your words and that moment of his passing is one I will never forget.
I remember that top picture, Susan. You’re in my prayers. ❤
Thanks Jill. ❤
Beautiful. Crying with your words
Aww….thank you. ❤
I volunteer to sit with people who are dying and have nobody else in the world. I am used to the mechanics of death, which you so well describe. I did not see my dad dying, I didn’t make it home in time. It’s only now, a few months later, that I fully inhabit the realization that I will never, ever see him again. It takes a long time to recover. If ever. Beautiful piece.
Thank you so much. It does take a long time to recover. Some days are better than others. And what a wonderful you do for those poor lonely souls. You have a very large heart.