I awoke in the recliner next to dad’s bed. My pillow was on the floor and my neck was stiff from attempting to find a comfortable position. I looked at Dad, still sleeping peacefully. I watched his breaths, in and out, in and out. I checked my phone, as word had spread about our current living situation, I had received multiple texts and messages. I tried to make as little noise as possible, but it wasn’t long before Kelsey and Mom were awake, too. There was no such thing as a good sleep in hospice. We were lucky to get a couple of hours between nurses coming in, noises, and that furniture material that you stick to, no matter how you lay on it.
We hung out for awhile and mom decided she’d go take a shower. We had another day of meal’s and visitors lined up. I opened one of the doors to the porch. It was a gorgeous morning with a nice breeze and 60*. A perfect morning for coffee in that rocking chair later on, I thought to myself. I took mom’s spot on the couch and Kelsey and I continued scrolling through our phones listening to music. I kept the lights off in the room. It felt so peaceful. Our good friend Melinda popped her head in to let us know breakfast was ready in the family area. Something told me to just hang a little while longer.
I can’t tell you what it was, but something inside of me said go check on him. I walked to Dad’s bedside, I knew. I watched his chest, waiting for the inhale. It never came. He was gone. Kelsey knew instantly by my stillness.
I covered my mouth with my hand as tears fell instantly. Nothing could have prepared me for that moment. Nor the myriad of emotions that flooded my brain. First, relief. I was so relieved he was no longer in pain, no longer waiting for it to be over. Second, guilt. How could I be relieved that my Dad, one of my best friends, is forever gone from me? Third, Agony. Oh my gosh, my Dad is really gone. How do I do this? And fourth, panic. My Mom still had no clue. Do I go get her? Do I let her have a last moment of peace before her life turns upside down?
“Oh Dad…I’m so sorry,” the only words I could get out through tears. At that moment, Mom came in and watched as Kelsey and I stood waiting for the doctor to call the official time of death. All I could mouth to her was that he was gone. Why Dad waited until Mom left the room, I don’t know. Maybe that’s how he wanted it? Maybe he thought that was best? But it took him no time at all to send us a sign as we came to the realization of what had just happened
My whole life I chose to be #13 on my sports teams because that’s always been my Dad’s favorite number. Lucky #13. My dad passed on 10/3 at 10:03am…13 and 13.
The rest of the day was a blur. We stayed with Dad until we were ready. We walked out with him, all of the hospice staff standing and paying their respects. He went out through the same doors he had been brought in. We packed up in disbelief and went home. How did I even drive my own vehicle? We watched the world continue the hustle and bustle around us while we moved in slow motion. Our hearts aching, our eyes raw, our bodies exhausted. Grief got his first grip and held on tight.
The rest of the week we did the funeral home visit, church visit, cleaned out his office at work. We stayed awake talking/reminiscing/crying until 4am and then would sleep til 1pm. It was the most backwards my day had been since freshman year of college.
And now here we are, 365 days later. I wish I could say my days have gone back to normal. I don’t think they ever will. Even if they could, I wouldn’t want them to. October 3, 2017 – It’s The Goodbye that changed my life.
2 thoughts on “The Goodbye: The Final Chapter”
Thank you for sharing your story.
“He was so funny, thoughtful, kind, and SMART.” He was all of that, for sure. He was also the most congenial and honest man, and a neighbor I knew I could always count on if needed. I remember that last Friday more than you can imagine because of your Dad. I can relive most every detail in my mind even today because my goal was to meet a work deadline by 5pm and head back from Columbus in the hopes of visiting your Dad on my way back home late evening. Even though the deadline was an artificial one, my boss, after acknowledging that the deadline would not suffer if the work was completed over the weekend, insisted I stay to work toward completion even when I told her of my plan. I missed a narrow window to pay my sincere respects and maybe getting in one more laugh with your Dad, and I regret not just getting up and walking out. When you’ve lived three states away from your family for over 25 years, your neighbors become your family…and you all have been a blessing to me and my boys! I hope your Dad knew how much I appreciated his friendship.
I miss my dad greatly, Kara, and was holding his hand and sitting alongside him in his bed as he passed. It’s a special memory that I cherish because I feel he knew how much I loved him. I’m so glad you were there beside your Dad to be a rock for him when he needed it. He loved all of you so very much!