My Father’s Final Gift
As I write this, it’s been just a few hours since my father drew his last breath. Just that one sentence, though. It would take me a week to return to the otherwise blank screen.
I write, thinking I have something profound to say; about how to always live without regret and tell others you love them. You know, the usual prompts that pop up every time we lose someone near and dear to our hearts.
Truth be told, I have no regrets, and my father and I exchanged expressions of love regularly. There was no unresolved disagreement or concern over what he thought I thought of him. He knew I cared for him deeply, and I knew the same.
How do you write about your feelings when you aren’t sure what they are? How do you explain that pulling nag you have in the pit of your stomach that won’t go away — not even if you take deep breaths, drink, dance, sing, laugh, cry or even write? I am at a loss because I don’t know if the right words even exist.
I am a daughter who is hurting. I am a wife who’s putting more focus on herself right now. I’m a friend who is leaning on others way more than she thought she ever would, sometimes more than she thinks she should. I am a human mom to a beautiful dog and cat, whom I rely upon to comfort me, thanking them with more treats than usual.
There’s a lesson here. There always is. But I’ll be damned if I can identify it. The words right now? They flow out of me as if I’m saying something heavy, but I’m really just going through the motions. My fingers glide across the keys as if my body is doing the actual writing instead of my mind spinning phrases together.
Maybe you’re able to relate. Perhaps this all just looks like a jumbled mess of characters filling up whitespace on the screen. Maybe, just maybe, what I’m feeling is that which falls under the “unspoken” category — like when you look at someone you know too well, and you both have a conversation with your eyes.
It’s now seven days since that night I know I’ll never forget. It was both a painful and amazing experience. The idea you are strong enough to tell someone it’s okay to leave you, and they do — quickly and calmly, as if to make the entire process easier on you — is astounding. I wonder if it was him giving silent tugs during those final moments to make sure we knew it was time to say goodbye. As if to make certain none of us would miss that final chance.
I suspect that over time, things will become more clear. But maybe they won’t. And I honestly think I’ll be okay either way. There’s nothing I never said — there’s no wondering if I said enough.
On the banks of the Ocquionis, in the home he built for his family, my father gave us the opportunity so many others never get. He gave us the wonderful gift of being able to guide him to peace.