January 5, 2017 § 1 Comment
I woke to falling snow, an immediate indicator of how the day would shape out; in Asia, white is the color of mourning.
The plague I have is on its way out the door, but I’m still coughing, sneezing, congested at times. Still worried about getting my dad, my mom, my family sick. So I went to work, distracted myself with little tasks I needed to catch up on, office gossip, the friends I work with.
Greg updated me around 10:00 that Dad was unresponsive—sleeping, not waking for anyone. My heart fell through the floor.
The snow tapered, but never stopped. At one point, fat white flakes fell, seeming to mark off the moments. I watched them, wondering as each one hit the ground if that was the moment my father died.
At 3:00, I left for the day and met Tracy at home. She drove us over worsening, whitening roads to the hospice. I stopped inside the door to blow my nose hard, cough out what I could into tissues, and mask up. I couldn’t get the mask on with everything in my hands, so I threw it all at a chair in the waiting room—used tissues, clean tissues, earmuffs. Frustrated. Scared.
As we approached Dad’s room, Greg stepped out. Visibly shaken. Steve followed, eyes red and brimming.
My dad had just passed away, minutes before we got to his side.
I went into the room, placed my hand on his shoulder. Mom sat across from me, sobbing. I moved around the bed and hugged her. Began crying myself, then couldn’t stop. My eyes burned with acidic tears. Later, I’d find milky spatter on the lenses of my glasses.
I stopped crying. Started again. Stopped. A nurse came, listened to his chest, then called the charge nurse. She came a few minutes later, also listened, and pronounced it. The official time of death was 4:12; in reality, it was several minutes prior.
The world didn’t halt; it carried on, stepping over the pieces of our hearts on the floor. Indifferent. We drew together, an island of familial grief, then broke apart to drift our separate ways.
Outside, the snow continued to cast its funeral shroud across the landscape.
My dad, Christmas 2016.