One Last Breath

At 4:42 a.m. the phone rings and the question is asked, “How important is it that you see your dad one more time?”

In pajamas I stand over an empty suitcase completely immobile, unable to make a decision of what shirt goes with what pants.  What do I pack, what do I wear?  How do you decide what to wear on such a day?  I break down, tears streaming, my head buried in the still empty suitcase.  Husband hugs me and I cling to him.

There is normality in a cup of coffee but there is an urgency as time ticks.  I dress, pack, and write lists for Husband about school bus schedules, lunches, valentines parties and homemade cards.  Cookies need to be bought for Carter’s class.  And Cody’s dinosaur report I had been so looking forward to seeing is happening today; the report paper and poster must not be forgotten.

I leave.  The boys are asleep.  It is dark and raining with patches of fog.  I force myself not to speed but I have moments of sheer panic in which I fear I am too late.  The reflection of the passing trees in the face of my cell phone sitting on the seat next to me makes my heart jump.  I keep thinking the phone is about to ring with the news that this is all for not.  I turn my phone over and my ringer up.

It takes me three hours to get to his bedside.  My mom has been there all night after receiving a phone call from the care facility that she should come in.  They were not sure he would make it through the night.

He died five hours after I arrived.  He slowly shut down bit by bit.  His circulation slowed; his feet and hands lost their warmth.  The automated breathing we have such trust in became untrustworthy.  I can tell you there is such a thing as a death rattle.  My mom and I, we were there to witness his final breath.  And then he was still.  At peace.  Finally free from Alzheimer’s.  Monday, February 13th, 1:31 pm.

I do not believe in any organized form of religion.  I do not believe in God, heaven or hell, eternal life.  I say this not to offend, please understand. I only want to express to you where my thoughts were, what I believe.  When pressed about a form of spiritual comfort I find myself coming back to the same answer.  The answer of nature.  Nature is simple and complex all at the same time.  It amazes me with its power and its grace.  Watching my dad die I thought of these things.

Obit Photo

Energy cannot be created or destroyed only changed from one form to another – Law of the Conservation of Energy.  My dad’s molecular energy, no longer needed by him, is out there still, out there in the greater vastness of nature.

About Shoes

I am an elementary school teacher, a former microbiologist, a mom to a herd of two boys, and a grilled cheese sandwich and beer connoisseur.
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38 Responses to One Last Breath

  1. mommysaidaswearword says:

    Just beautiful. What a handsome man he was. I am so sorry for your loss.

  2. Thank you for sharing this with us. I hope writing it was cathartic for you… I am so sorry for your loss. We share similar beliefs on the circle of life…thank you for wording it so wisely and beautifully. I know the time will come in the not distant future in which I will need to re-read this to feel stronger. Thank you.

    • shoes says:

      Thank you. Part of me writes to feel better but I also write so I don’t forget, especially the little details, I don’t want to lose them. I am honored to be one of the many sources of your strength when the time comes. There is such pain but the relief that he is no longer an Alzheimer’s victim makes the pain easier to tolerate.

  3. ravyn says:

    Absolutely beautiful and honest. You are a gift to us all in sharing what this was and is like for you. Thank you. My heart is with you, my friend.
    Your answer, “nature”, is exactly the single most profound thing I have heard in some time. I agree completely. Thank you also for sharing that.

    • shoes says:

      My thoughts on nature and the connectedness of us all helps me a bit. The hole left in my world is something I still need to come to terms with; it will never go away but the way I think of it is for me to change and perhaps find comfort in.

  4. Lisa W. says:

    So sorry for your loss. Wishing you peace and comfort.

  5. mimijk says:

    I am not sure that there is additional solace that one can receive from people you have never met, yet there is unquestionably an abundance of sympathy and thoughts that are being extended to you right now. Whether or not one believes in organized religion, one can surely embrace the collective concern of all who are thinking of you right now.

    • shoes says:

      I am most certainly finding solace from the words, thoughts, and memories of people I have never met. I appreciate all the kindness I am receiving and it really is helping me greatly. Thank you for your comment.

  6. christine says:

    Your father would surely be appreciate being honored so honestly and eloquently. My thoughts are with you. Do take care of yourself.

  7. Jodi Stone says:

    What a beautiful, loving post. I’m so sorry for your loss. We are sending you warm thoughts, white light and blessings.


  8. Beautifully written and thank you so much for sharing such a touching and personal moment. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    • shoes says:

      Thank you for your comment. Writing helps me process what I am going through and sharing it with others makes is seem more real, more manageable somehow.

  9. muddledmom says:

    Aw, so sorry to hear it, but so glad you were able to be there during his final hours. A very moving post. Big hug to you.

    • shoes says:

      I am so glad I was able to be there with him and my mom at the end. It was peaceful. It was good for me to see and know how the final time passed. I am glad I was there to hug and cry with my mom. I miss him but am glad it is over too, he did not want to live that way.

  10. Beth says:

    You are a manifestation of your father’s energy and love. Peace to you and your family.

  11. Beautiful and powerful. You made your dad proud. I’m so sorry for you loss, but I’m grateful you shared this part of you.

  12. So sorry for your loss!

  13. Hetterbell says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about your father’s death. I don’t know what to say. All I can do is tell you that you are in my thoughts and that I wish you and your Mom and your whole family all the strength you need to get through this difficult time.

  14. Nancy says:

    Such a wonderful, comforting thought that your father’s energy is still a part of everything. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  15. Nancy says:

    I’m sorry, I should have said more. I’m not usually at a loss for words, but for some reason I seem to be after reading your post. I have put off reading it since receiving it in my inbox. The title said it all and I was immediately sad for you. But your post was so real, so true. You and your family are in my thoughts.

    • shoes says:

      Nancy, don’t feel bad about not finding the words because I don’t think there is a perfect sentence or sentiment to express. I feel like lately I have only been writing about sad, heavy events in my life and these things are not as easy to comment on. These things are not easy on me and I am hoping to get out of this gray cloud my head has been in lately (or is the cloud in my head?) and move on to brighter things. I really do appreciate your comments and thoughts, thank you.

  16. illusionofsanity says:

    I’m so sorry. Thank you for sharing this with us; I know it’s been a difficult journey. xoxo

    • shoes says:

      You are welcome. On one hand it seems kind of strange to share such a personal experience with people I don’t know but on the other, I do not really consider you to be strangers. It also helps me just to write about it; allows me to move on.

  17. Gems says:

    What a beautiful tribute…you wrote this so well. I am very sorry for your loss. Your father will be loved and remembered by an amazing family. xxx

    • shoes says:

      Thank you. I have experienced a great loss but I also have so many wonderful memories and stories to hold on to. I was truly lucky to have him as my dad and my friend.

  18. veronicahaunanifitzhugh says:

    beneath the bitter snow, lies a seed that with the sun’s warmth becomes the rose.

    i am sorry for your loss.

    please let me know if you need anything.

  19. Pingback: opening up about the surgery. « Piles of Laundry

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