Since Sunday night at 5:20 p.m. to be exact. For about 36 hours now.
Though I had felt as if I had no parents for many, many years, this made it a hard core reality. I had shunned both of my parents long ago, never wanting to have anything to do with them (damn, I was so proud of myself, being so independent and all). My mother had died 17 years ago, but there was still another half of the parenting duo alive, and despite the fact that we were separated by hundreds of miles, my father was always there for me to ignore.
What a hollow victory this turned out to be.
A week ago my aunt Mary called from the hospice center where they had taken my father. Apparently what the doctors diagnosed five weeks ago as a urinary tract infection, turned out to be a stroke, and his condition had deteriorated since. It’s been a bit on the stressful side, due to my oldest brother’s immoral and illegal conduct – I’m setting that one aside for another blog…or a novel…**counting on fingers how many times he has tried to screw the family**…No. Definitely a novel.
I apologize, I digress.
So, last week my aunt called me from the hospice center to let me know my father was unresponsive. She offered to hold the phone up to his ear so I could say something to him. I hesitated, because I really had nothing to say. I had made my peace on my own, so what was left? But my brother was on his way out to Arizona from California, and once he got there, I knew I wouldn’t have another chance. I didn’t know what I could say. All I knew was that I didn’t want to have any regrets.
Death is a process, a very personal journey, and I wanted to respect that. So instead of taking the stance of daughter-to-father and get in his face, I decided to go toe-to-toe, soul-to-soul. I could see no other way.
Later my aunt would tell me that when I first spoke to him, with her cell phone to his ear, his labored breathing had slowed, as if to hear me better, and as I spoke, his eyes moved behind his lids. He had heard me.
I opened my heart up as wide as I could and tried to see the playing field for what it was. Completely off kilter. I was strong, healthy, with at least another 50 years with which to make good with myself. His body was shutting down. His life was coming to an end. Another soul, another incarnation, just waiting…waiting for whatever moment souls wait for before they let go.
I couldn’t even begin to question his life’s plan, because I don’t really even know my own. All I knew was that moment was not the time to speculate. That would be his job…once he had passed. Neither was it a time to judge, condemn, or hold a grudge. That never did any good anyway – in life or death.
So I said what I needed to say and told him good-bye, feeling as if there was so much more to say, regretting that I didn’t say more. But it didn’t matter. My brother had arrived at the hospice center, threw a hissy fit as only my 50-year-old brother can, and my aunt, my only connection to my father, left the hospice center for the last time.
A week had passed since then and each day my father did what he had to do to complete his life. I wish I knew what went on inside his head – so different, I’m sure, from what went on in mine.
To everyone who might ask, “Are you okay?” My answer is: I think I am. I feel a touch of sadness, perhaps for what never was and never could be – at least with any sort of normalcy. I feel cheated, like…This is it? Is that all I get? Born into a dysfunctional family, growing up in an abusive environment, separation, and then death? What the hell was that all about?
I’d released the hold he had on me, but his passing truly severed it. Now there is no going back. There is only moving forward.
You may be wondering what I said to him and, as always, my friends, I invite you into my head.
“Whether this was a part of the plan we agreed upon in Soul Place, or you just made really poor choices and went way off course, we both ended up in a place I wish we hadn’t. I’m sad for the years that could have been, happy for the years that weren’t.
I love your soul, but not your heart, because it never was with me. I trust you will find your lessons learned and the time here well spent. For now, Godspeed. I wish you well.
Say hi to Mom for me. I’ve tried, but with all the voices in my head, I can’t hear her say anything back.
I don’t know what else to say, so I guess I’ll say good-bye for now.
I’ll catch you on the flip side, Dad. I’ll catch you on the flip side.”