I have no catchy titles or any wise words for this. This chapter is shorter and was hard to write. Not because the words weren’t there, but because they were hard words to put on paper. If you’re still reading this I’d still like more feedback on it so I know how seriously to pursue getting it made. Anyway, like I said, this one’s short but I think it’s the perfect length.
What is Life?
It’s weird how most of the worst experiences in my life had a feeling of not being real. They had me outside myself looking in. They kept me talking in a tunnel so that everything would echo around in my brain. Everything just had a feeling of being really surreal. You don’t need drugs to escape reality; you just need a horrible life changing event to occur.
I’m not sure how I made it home without getting a ticket since I was driving faster than anyone. I made a three hour trip in around an hour and a half and my knuckles were white the whole way. Kora was of course unaware at the time other than ‘grampa is sick’ and sat in the back watching the little TV I had on the back of the front seat.
Again, I found myself reaching out to God at my lowest point despite the fact that if you asked me when things were going well I’d tell you I didn’t necessarily believe he would help you. I think I talked to God more that day than I had in my entire life, considering I kept asking Him to not take my dad until I could get to see him. Mom hadn’t said exactly how bad off he was just that he’d had a heart attack and things didn’t look good.
“You should get here as soon as you can,” her voice had cracked and sounded weak and frail, nothing like the strong woman that raised me.
The hospital was very familiar to me and was where all bad seems to come to a climax in my life. Getting beaten, Kora’s birth and Kora’s burns all a part of this hospital. Ok, Kora being born was great but the events that surrounded it were not.
The halls were lined with the sick, the ailing, and the dying. All around there was sorrow and despair that seemed to fill my mind and bring back all the feelings that I had tried so hard to leave behind so many years ago. Finally I got to his room. 2104. The number 104, huh, now God’s just being funny.
Walking in I saw the images that would be burned in my mind for years to come. My mother was sitting next to him with silent tears covering her face and an expression that said, ‘what will I do without you?’ And then there was my dad with seemingly thousands of tubes going into and out of his body which itself had turned pale and looked so old and so worn. He could have already been dead for all I knew but the little machine reassured that a slow and nearly imperceptible yet still hanging on heart beat was going. Beep…………. Beep……… It really was a slow haunting beep.
Mom took Kora out to get a snack and try to explain to her what was going on since situations like this left me virtually unable to function. I walked over and sat down beside my father and looked away. I looked back over, started to take his hand, and then looked away again. Well, he was still alive and I had gotten there in time but now I couldn’t bring myself to talk to him or even look at him.
My stomach started turning and I thought I might throw up so I looked further away out the window.
Hospital windows are always the most depressing windows you could possibly want to look out. I looked out there and saw a pretty little playground and a swing and some nice benches but it was all occupied by people crying or people about to die. And if there weren’t any people crying or about to die there would be people coping with the lowest of low points in their lives.
The funniest of these areas will have a wishing well. ‘What’s that? Don’t believe in God or the power of prayer? Well do you believe a nickel soaked in moss covered water will save your father?’ Sure, why not. Here, take a whole quarter cause my dad is that important to me.
Did I mention I get cynical when I am having a bad day?
You see this was harder for me than I may have made it out to be earlier on because as much distance as my dad and I had with each other for so much of my life I realized how much he had taught me. He had taught me to be strong, even though I learned it later than would have helped me. In this same delayed way he taught me to be a hard worker for my family and to be patient, though that last one I am still struggling with.
These thoughts of mine were interrupted by a hand touching mine. I almost jumped because the hand didn’t feel real. It felt cold and bony and not of this earth. I turned and was sad to find out this unfamiliar hand belonged to someone I was very familiar with. His eyes pleaded out to me but I couldn’t tell for what. Was he ready to go? Did he want to talk? Did he know the secret to the universe and just have to share it now?
“I love you dad.”
He just smiled and nodded, if you could call it a nod.
Silence filled with more haunting beeps from that machine.
Sometimes in life a silent moment passes and you don’t even notice it. In THESE times in life, when death is what’s next and you have a million things to say but can’t find one thing to actually verbalize, a silent moment is an eternity.
He stopped smiling and raised his eyebrows, if you could call them raised.
I looked back down. I didn’t want to explain myself I just wanted him to know I was. But I had to, how could I deny him explanations now?
“I’m sorry….. I’m sorry for…” Deep breath, “I’m sorry for all the times I disobeyed you. I’m sorry for all the times I yelled at you. I am SO sorry that I once stole money from you and snuck out of the house to go watch a movie with Danny when you grounded me. I’m sorry that I didn’t listen to you when you tried to warn me about him. I’m sorry that I wasn’t a better daughter to you. I’m sorry that I made you angry or ever hurt your feelings… But mostly…” Tears were welling up in my eyes, “Mostly I’m sorry that I failed to live up to everything you tried to teach me.”
Now tears were starting to slide down my cheek. They were like icicles on my face. Now I really couldn’t look at him but his hand tapped mine a few times. I finally wiped my face and looked over at him at which point he motioned, very weakly, for me to come nearer.
I leaned up in the seat and my hands traversed the mounds of tubes and wires to find spots to prop myself up so I didn’t crush this frail version of the strong man I once knew. He motioned for me to lean in closer and he grasped at the oxygen mask on his face but couldn’t get it off. I moved my hands around it carefully and slowly lifted it off his face so that I didn’t hurt him and placed it aside. His hand now reached for my shoulder and pulled my ear to his mouth.
He then spoke to me, if you could call it speaking. He struggled to fill his lungs with air to get words out and when he did it was quiet, it was faint, it was weak, and it was slow with short breaths of air between every word or two.
“I…. am so… proud…. Of you….” He wheezed and tried to breathe in a big amount of air but failed again. Still he went on, “Take…. Care of… Kora… you are…. A …. Great…. Mother.” He kissed my cheek and laid his head back down. He smiled and closed his eyes, and that slow haunting beep stopped to be replaced by a solid buzzing tone. My father was gone.
I hugged him. He was gone but I hugged what was left here in the room with me and realized I would never do that again.