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.
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.