Photo courtesy of: Olivia Henn
I held the ‘Mother’s Day’ card and pen in my hand, slowly sat down on the edge of the bed next to Dad, put my hand on his arm, caressing gently and said,
‘Dad, wake-up, I need you to sign this card for Mom for Mother’s Day. It’s tomorrow and I know Mom would love you to sign it for her’.
Nothing, not one eye opened, only the sound of Dad’s labored breathing. I tried again almost begging, ‘Dad, please wake up, I need you to sign this card for Mom’. Still, Dad did not make any movements. I broke down. I tried everything I could, mentioning Mom, begging, and now crying, but nothing woke him up. I looked up to see my brother and nurse leaving the room. I realized now that we were at the point of no return, the inevitable finality hit me like a whack in the head and a knife in the heart. Dad was dying and there was nothing any of us could do. The bargaining with Dad’s so-called God, the ‘never give up speech’, the anger, the fear, the complete and utter sadness; we felt it all, and our lives as we had known it, was forever transformed.
I took the card and put it away in a kitchen drawer. I realized I had almost become hysterical with grief. I had to leave, if only because I didn’t want Mom to see me like this, as she needed both my brother and I to be strong, in fact, Dad needed us to be strong.
I told my brother I would be back in a few hours, but needed to go home… to what? I needed to go home to escape, I needed to go home to cry, and I needed to go home to be with my kitten to cuddle, but more realistically, I needed to go home to… ‘Get hold of myself’ and muster the strength to continue on.
I arrived at my apartment and broke down. Buggs seemed to sense something was wrong and sat on my lap. This was not the Buggs I knew. He was the type of cat who never cuddled, would sleep alone in his cat bed, whack at shadows on the wall during the night, and swing from the drapes, this was not the same cat I was petting now, was it? I turned on the TV, laid down on the couch, put a blanket over myself and then the most bizarre thing happened; Buggs tunneled under the blanket and curled up in my arms. I thought I had saved him from the Humane Society, but in fact, it was him who saved me.
I woke up to the phone ringing. Oh no, I thought. Please don’t let it be Mom calling to say Dad died!
It was Mom; she called let me know that everything was still the same, and she didn’t see any need for me to be there anytime soon. I, of course, said No, I would be back over at midnight to take the next shift. There was no more fight left in Mom, so she agreed; the truth of the matter was there was no more fight left in any of us anymore.
A couple of hours passed; I slowly rose up from the couch, grabbed my keys, and left to go ‘home’.