I always feared that call. The call came today. The hospice nurse was with my dad at the nursing home. He’s not responsive and may be “transitioning.” She kept talking and my mind stopped hearing, wondering what “transitioning” means. He could bounce back, she said, but he may be entering the dying phase. I felt nauseous.
In the moment before I left his bedside this afternoon, I watched him for a long moment. His body in deep slumber, his face was peaceful. Maybe he couldn’t acknowledge that I was there or respond to my words, but I think he could hear me. And no matter what selfish wishes I have in wanting him to stay here, I know I’ll have to face what's coming. I’ll have to let go.
I am that person. The one full of regret for not having paid attention to my dad’s words when I was younger. For not spending more time with him. Do I even know who he is? He’s still here. He’s still relevant. That I do know. And in trying to resolve my guilt-ridded mind — in trying to separate the tsunami of emotion that wants to drown me — I know he is everything to me.
His body is beginning to separate from the physical world. I don’t understand it and as uncomfortable as I am in knowing the end is nearing, it all seems very natural. And, as strange as it sounds, even to me, I find that very nature comforting. We are born. We live. We love. We die.
Right now, my selfish self hopes for a moment of clarity where he knows I’m there. My realistic self knows I have no control. Control doesn’t exist in the natural world. I feel like I, too, am transitioning into a place I don’t yet know how to navigate. I don’t know whether to cry or avoid thinking about it. And that’s ok. Whatever will come will come at the right time. In the meantime, I need hugs and prayers. And most of all, love.