It was around midnight the night before the first of my final exams when I received the phone call. The voice on the other end of the line was one i’ve heard many times before, but this time it was different. Between tears my mom told me that I should probably come home as soon as I could. She explained to me that my dad had gone into cardiac arrest, and although he was alive, things were not looking good.
I sat down on the floor and stared into my lap. I knew that I was about to make the drive despite my mother telling me it wasn’t safe. I thought about her. This was her husband, her best friend. Her kids were grown up and he was all she had.
The knot in my throat got tighter and tighter as i tried to hold back the tears that seemed as though they would flow for eternity if just one left my eye. I felt defeated. God was my last resort, he was all I had now. Despite my skepticism in his existence I clapped my hands together and stared at the ceiling with glazed over eyes praying harder than I ever had before.
I moved around my room in a state of confusion trying to gather everything I needed. I ran out to my car and started driving. I was on the road for an hour before I even realized what I was doing. The tears from my eyes flowed, and my only goal was to stay between the two white lines as heavy metal music attempted to numb my fragile mind.
What do I say. That was my only thought. How do I say goodbye to the man that raised me, the man who created me. He was not only my father, but my friend. We talked on the phone everyday. I still needed him in my life. He can’t go now. Not yet.
I got home and couldn’t sleep. My mom and I sat up talking. We got to the hospital right when it opened the following morning and my dad cried when he saw me. He had no idea how bad things were until I got there. He didn’t know that in addition to his heart, it was his alcohol withdrawal that was degrading his chances of survival. My mom slept in the hospital with him, and i traveled back and forth from home since there was no more space in his room.
During the day he would sleep a lot, so I would walk around the hospital. I saw people dragged out of the hospital screaming and crying tears of death, as well as people crying tears of joy as they held their newborn baby. I just sat in the lobby and felt the energy of the room change with each wave of emotions that entered and passed.
An old woman sat next to me in the waiting room. She was shaking. I quickly ran out of the room to grab tissues. I came back and asked if she was ok. She looked at me and started crying. I gave her the tissues and we talked. It was her husband, and he wasn’t going to be getting better. I could see the pain in her eyes. And her desire to go with him.
As life draws closer to the end, time slows down and every moment becomes precious. Our memories with this person flash before our eyes, and we wonder how to create closure. Our final sentences become works of art. Something they can carry with them into eternal darkness. When people lay on their deathbed, the quality of their life is the combination of their memories. So create meaningful ones. And the only thing the rest of us can say is: “I love you.”