October 21, 2016.
I walked to the door step of my date, ready to celebrate his birthday. My phone buzzed with an unknown number, a number from Washington. The familiar skip of my heart convinced me to take the call, as I have taken the wrong number or solicitation calls in the last few months, afraid of who might be at the other end. This was the one I had been dreading.
My dad’s nurse was on the other end to say he had a fall and suffered cardiac arrest because of the trauma. He was resuscitated, but sedated and fading. I asked what that meant and she said “minutes or hours.” I rang the bell as my body vibrated, the air rushed out of my lungs. There was no way I was going to make it in time and absolutely nothing I could do to stop it.
Knowing that something is going to happen can only prepare you so much for it actually happening. I was simultaneously bowled over with losing my dad, but grateful that he wasn’t trapped in his body anymore. He was always muscular, lean, proud of his strength and work ethic. The last few years gave him time to be still and think, but also drew him closer to death. As he told me, “I am no longer able to make memories in my life, so I sit here quietly and think back over the ones I have, the good and the bad.”
He will never get to make me feel awkward in front of my future husband. He will never hold his future grandchildren. He will now live as stories and memories that we have the great honor and responsibility of sharing with the rest of our family, in the same way he made sure we heard about his parents who had died when he was a child.
It’s selfish of me to wish we had more time. His voice on the other end of the phone was still that of my dad, but his mind was restless in the body that was no longer his. I learned to live adventurously through my dad and he would laugh as I told him my newest plans. I had just told him the night before he died that I am leaving for Denmark in a month. He chuckled and said “I’m not surprised. You barely get one foot back on the ground before you’re ready to take off again.”
I hope this time he gets to go with me and laugh along with the journey. As he took part of my heart with him in his passing, I will take a part of his with me living life with enough adventure for two.