I arrived at midnight to do my shift while my brother and Mom went upstairs to sleep. It was officially Mother’s Day and I looked over at Dad and felt a great sadness wave over me. The nurse read a book in the corner and quietly said to me,
‘It won’t be long now, maybe another 8 hours, but he is failing quickly.’
‘Thanks’, I said. What else could I say? You’re wrong; he’s going to pull out of this one? This was all a bad dream? No, I couldn’t say any of that, as I knew, we had lost the battle and war. The noise of the oxygen machine raged on in the background mixed in with a rattle coming from Dad. I got up and held Dad’s hand, while tears softly ran down my cheeks. I tried to be strong, but I thought, there are so many things I want to say to Dad. I was angry and felt cheated that I would not get to know Dad as a person. He was an amazing Dad, but we had not reached the point in our relationship where we saw one another as equals. I was Daddy’s little girl, but I would never be Ray’s friend.
Time was a contradiction. The hours that passed were never enough. I believed that we could live like this forever, because we still had him here. I was dreading ‘letting go’, and not sure any of us could surrender Dad to wherever he was headed.
The sun came up and both Mom and my brother slowly descended the stairs to take over the next shift. Mom dressed in her housecoat, looked at me with a ‘little girl lost’ look on her face. I wished I could make it all better for her, but knew that we all were going through our own heartbreak and none of us could say anything to one another to change the fact that Dad was almost gone.
‘How is he?’ Mom asked carefully.
I looked over at the nurse looking for some sort of reassurance and said,
‘He’s getting worse, the nurse doesn’t think it will be long’.
A gasp escaped Mom’s inner body. I knew deep down inside that Mom was not ready for losing her soul mate. I knew the plans both Mom and Dad made for retirement were now crushed.
‘Should we call the Priest today?’ she quietly asked.
‘I think that’s a good idea’, I said, knowing that the Priest could not do anything; in fact, God had definitely forgotten this little family.
I rose from a chair in the room and told Mom I would be back in a few hours. She didn’t seem to hear me when I said,
‘I’ll be back soon’. Nothing, there was no acknowledgement from her as she walked around in circles in the kitchen.
‘Mom?’ I said as I walked into the kitchen to meet her.
‘Where is the phone number for the church? Do you know where your father may have put it?’
Oh no, the ‘Mother’s Day’ card I purchased to have Dad sign was in one of the drawers where she was headed looking for the phone number.
‘Mom’, I said, ‘I’ll get you the number, you go sit down now with Dad’.
‘But I need the number now’, she said as she began ransacking through each drawer.
I quickly walked towards her, took her by the hands, and said, ‘Mom, it’s okay, I’ll find it, you go sit down with Dad’.
She broke. She began to sob in my arms. No words were spoken as my brother grabbed a few Kleenex and handed them to Mom.
Once she wiped her tears, she straightened up, and walked slowly into the living room to sit next to Dad and held his hand.
I looked over at my brother and although we always knew that Mom’s entire world would crash, it was very difficult and heartbreaking to see her cave.
I was about to grab the Mother’s Day card when I became distracted looking for the Priest’s phone number.
‘Found it’, I said as I handed it to Mom. ‘You want me to call?’
‘No, I’ll call a little later’ Mom said to me quietly without taking her eyes off Dad.
I took my car keys and left home to have a shower, maybe a quick nap, and do it all over again.