My dad died. But that didn’t happen in a day. There was all the stuff leading up to my dad dying: the Christmas diagnosis, the chemo treatments, the scheduled surgery, the excessively long recovery in the hospital, the restrictions in place because of Covid preventing us from even entering the hospital to be with him during said recuperation. And then the three phone calls:
1. Your dad’s leak hasn’t repaired itself yet but I’m sending him home in three days’ time because he will heal better at home than here alone. It’s going to be a long slow process. I’ll talk with you soon; I’m off to the OR for the rest of the day.
2. Your dad is being moved back to ICU and probably being intubated. Oh and his heart stopped for eight minutes talk to you later, maybe? bye.
3. You need to come to the hospital right away; your dad’s heart stopped for another four minutes, hurry, don’t stop, come NOW.
Hurried phone calls, quick text messages, even faster than a heart beat prayers ascending, so many questions, too many thoughts, overcrowding emotions, hurrying up to slow down a goodbye.
Are all really doing the best we can.
He — my dad — is doing the best he can to breathe, to heal, to beat in time with his desire to stay.
She — my mother — is doing the best she can to breathe, to hurt, to heal in time with her desire for him to be here with her.
We — my Self and siblings — are doing the best we can to breathe, to hold, to choose our parting words before the parting is gone, leaving a trail of should haves in its wake.
He — my dad — couldn’t sustain his own living will.
She — my mother — couldn’t hold on to a heart whose beating isn’t her own.
We — my Self and siblings — couldn’t have imagined the single-file opening of parting through which we have now walked, exit option non-existent.
The best we can is shattering, heartfelt and unavoidable.
“Any feeling fully felt leads to love,” says Gay Hendricks.
“Just lead with love and there’s no need to feel your way back to it,” says I, my Self, my heart bursting open wide from its freshly-tender new room with a view, no door back to where it lived before, there is only an opening to a deeper place, it’s ahead of me and not behind. And
Are all really doing the best we can right there.