Sunday, April 09, 2006
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.
Posted by Otter at 11:02 AM