Sunday, April 09, 2006

Sunday Scribblings

Sunday Scribblings

Real Life

There are so many stories I could tell about my current real life, but seeing it is April 9th I will share this very intimate portrait with you. I realize no matter how I write it, I will miss something. There is no way my words can come even close to painting this portrait.

Saturday, April 9, 1983

It is a rainy chilly Saturday April morning in Chicago. I should be in my dorm room but instead I'm camped out at my boyfriend Dan's house. The phone rings. It is the call. I knew this call was coming soon, but the reality of it being now hits hard. I hustle, get my things together and we take off.

I remember waiting on LeRoy Avenue in the pouring rain. Ironically, we are waiting at the very spot were my good friend Eugene had tragically died seventeen years earlier. Inside Dan's car the only sound is the whoosh-whoosh from his windshield wipers. There is nothing that can be said. I sit silently heavy in my thoughts and wait for my sister Meg.

Soon Meg's brown Mustang pulls up. We hug in the pouring rain and then drive the one block together deep in our own thoughts. What can two sisters say to each other as the reality of what is about to happen is staring us in the face?

Inside my childhood home, my father, my beloved and darling father is lying on his death bed. His breathing is getting shallower. We can hear the death rattle. Tears are falling from everyone's cheeks. Even the hospice nurse that has been staying at our house for the past three weeks is full of tears. For months now I knew this moment was coming and I tried hard to prepare myself for it. But how can a twenty year old college student prepare herself for the death of her father? How does daddy's little girl say goodbye?

His wife and everyone of his six children are gathered around his bed except for Mike. He is still up in Winona Minnesota at school preparing to come home. We all huddle around his bed, holding his hands, stroking his cheeks. Giving the only thing we have left to give; our presence, our love, our support. We pray, we talk, we sit quietly; waiting. His vital signs are getting weaker. The nurse says his death is near.

Then he opens his big brown eyes. He looks around the room, taking one last look at his family, his wife and children. His eyes flutter and close for the last time. His breath becomes shallower, slower, further apart. We hear him gasp. A few more breaths. Then the breaths become further and further apart until there are no more.

All that's left is my father's shell, his lifeless body begins to turn rigid and cold.

I leave the room unable to stand this unbearable, incomprehensible pain. I want to run down the street screaming, beating my fists against something hard. But I don't. I walk back into his room. I want to see him again. I must see him again. To begin to allow this reality to sink in. I need to drink him in for one last time. I touch his hand, it feels strange, cold and lifeless. I bend over his body and kiss his lips for the last time. Tears are falling, matching the raindrops outside. His lips are blue and cold. The kiss feels awful. It is something I immediately want to erase. But I can't. It is the final loving gesture a daughter can give her father.

Twenty three years later the tears still fall like raindrops staining this page. I realize this man, my father, is still teaching me about life, about love, about family and loyalty. These gifts he keeps giving reach beyond the grave and will always be with me for as long as there is breath in my body.

Daddy, I love you. I miss you. Please send some postcards.


Cate said...

Ohhh, Lisa. I just want to hug you right now (as much for me as for you--your words have reduced me to a puddle of tears!)! I am so sorry for your loss and what you had to endure, and I admire your ability to see the lessons that your father continues to teach! Thank you for sharing this bittersweet, honest piece of writing. xo

Living Part Deux said...

I'm so sorry that you lost your dear father so very young. Your loss is the stuff of real life, but his enduring presence through the legacy of his life is just as real. Thank you for sharing such a tender memory.

Endment said...

Lisa, this is beautiful and so very painful.
It is difficult to find words
I send you lots of sympathy

Jim Di Bartolo said...

Wow, SO beautiful and true. My father passed away over 7 years ago. Similarly, myself, my mom, and my sister were there to see him off. It's such a tragic time but I'm certain that both your father and mine knew that we were there and that he was loved. Your expression of your feelings hit home -- beautiful writing.


Kim G. said...

Lisa - Thank you for sharing this very personal picture of your real life. Your father was blessed to have a devoted daughter who honors his memory to this day. I hope that with the sad memories, come many that are also filled with joy and laughter and love.
Blessings to you.

Laini said...

I have tears in my eyes. I have such horrible fears about these moments coming for me. I can't even think about it, my mind revolts and immediately changes channels. Thank you for sharing your own painful story. It's so beautiful, and such a loving tribute. Thank you for sharing it.

Kara said...

Lisa, thank you for sharing this - I was in graduate school at the age of 25 when my father died. My family also waited and witnessed the end of breathing. I know you miss him. I send you my sympathy and a great big hug.

Otter said...

Very moving, thanks for sharing this moment. Triggered some thoughts in my mind…

Since I had just passed my 19th month of life, I don't remember this day. I've been told where I was and who I was with, but I can't remember at the moment. Now 23 years later, it’s a bit of the same. My emotions more come from others more than myself or my own experiences.

He is still a mysterious man to me... completely beyond my knowledge since I have no memories of him to reach back and form ideas and thoughts about, just a few pictures that have surrounded me since forever. I've spent many hours trying to construct him, since he is after all, very much a part of me and who I am. I root for the White Sox because of him. I’ve come to some conclusions of who he was, how I think he never caught a break. I’ve been told what he was like through my own father’s actions (or lack there of) at times. But the thing is, I really don’t know. It’s hard to construct someone who you know would have been special to you if things had worked out differently… of someone who you only see bits and pieces of from time to time without your own memories and moments that you shared with him. When someone passes before your time, you’re never able to see their face or how the react to a joke; their strengths and weaknesses in your own eyes… you can’t ‘form’ the person. Most of the time I’m left asking, who was this man who was my father’s father?

It’s one of those questions that I’ll never be fully able to answer to my liking.

deirdre said...

Lisa, thank you for sharing such a painful and intimate moment. I lost my sister six months ago, and although I wasn't there at the last moment I was there for everything leading up to it and for the hours after. I don't know if the heartbreak ever goes away. It's good to hear that your father is still with you and teaching you. What a gift.

gkgirl said...

made me
tear up...
i'm sorry for your loss
and grateful
for your ability to share it...

that last line.
the postcards.
thats what teared me up especially.

Holly said...

Hey Lisa, just sitting down to get a bit caught up and say hi. This is a compelling and incredible post. You know I lost my whole family, one by one, and you've described it so fully, so accurately. I'm sorry this happened to you and am glad to know you still grieve him - that is a great testament. Hope to see you soon, luv, me

Terri said...

I haven't been here in awhile, so popped by to visit and read this post first.
Such a profound and moving post. Your words flowed with the emotion. Ironically, I lost my dad 3 years ago on April 10...but unlike you, I was able to have him many years longer.
They're both still with us in spirit and for a daughter, it's very comforting, isn't it? The memories and love last a lifetime and we'll always be "Daddy's little girl" in our hearts, I say.