Mom and I busted our butts getting everything set up so Daddy could come home. But this homecoming was bittersweet. He was coming home to say goodbye.
Daddy came home for hospice on Friday. While mom sat with the hospice nurse and learned about dad’s medications, I pampered Daddy.
His first request was an RC Cola, loaded with ice. This I did, and watched as he guzzled his favorite soda. Then he had me put it to the side, and we held hands, as I sat on his home hospital bed with him.
He smiled. A lot. He was happy to be home. Happy to be with those people who loved him most. Loved him best.
We talked. He shared some of his favorite memories. He told me that he was proud of me, of all I’ve managed to accomplish. All that he knows I will achieve still.
He told me that I’m a great mom. A great daughter. To take care of those boys of mine. That he loves them so much. That he loves me so much. For the first time, and last time, he gave a guy that is dating me, his stamp of approval.
He told me to keep being strong. To keep following my dreams. To finish school. To live my life to the fullest. To take care of my mom. To laugh a lot. To be happy.
My boyfriend came by, and they chatted for a few minutes. It made my heart swell to see them both together. So glad that they had gotten to meet.
A neighbor, who has been family by choice, came by, and so I gave them some time alone.
My boyfriend sat with me in the fading light in my parents front yard, holding me and my hand, helping me through this heartbreaking time. Comforting me.
My oldest son came over, and gave his Papa a hug. And he told him he loved him.
Seeing how tired my dad was, I gave him a hug and kiss. Told him I loved him very much. He told me he loved me too. I slid my hand across his hair, told him goodnight.
The next morning, Saturday, I went over to see if dad was awake. The doors were locked. I didn’t want to wake anyone, so I watered their yard instead. I watched the sunlight catch within the drops, as butterflies danced with each other around moms rose bushes, as bees sought puddles to rest along the edges of. I let the peaceful beginning of the day lull my aching heart.
When the watering was done, I went back home, as nobody had yet awakened and opened a door.
At 10:22am, my mom called me. She couldn’t talk. I knew in that moment. I knew. I ran to their house, through the back door, into the living room.
One look. One glance.
He was gone. Daddy, my daddy, my dad. He was gone. My hero had found peace. Rest. A release from the pain. A release from the torment his body had been under for the last few years. He’s gone.
Mom and I are doing what we can. We cry, a lot. We miss him dearly. There is a void in our lives now. Nothing can ever fill it. The pain of losing him will never go away. We’ve lost enough people that we love dearly, to know this is true. But we also know that Daddy wouldn’t want us to suffer. He would want us to laugh, to love, to live. To carry the memory of him with us.
Daddy, I miss you. God I miss you.
But I heard you. I understand. And, as you know, I don’t like broken promises. I keep my word. I said I would follow my dreams, be happy, laugh, love, live, and take care of these amazing little boys of mine. And I will.
And thank you Daddy. Thank you for everything you taught me. For every second you spent loving me. For being the man that you are, that you were. You are a star in my sky, never-fading, always a guidepost for my soul. I will always, always, love you. This isn’t a goodbye, this is an until we meet again.
Thank you to my mom and dad for the beautiful picture for my birthday, yesterday. It may have been the last gift I’d get from you both, but it will always remind me of you two. Of what you both want for me. And about how much you love me.