Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of my dad’s death. I knew tomorrow would be hard.
Unexpectedly, today hit me like a ton of bricks. One year ago today I woke up in my own bed for the first time in more than a week, I went to work, and checked my phone anxiously all day waiting for a phone call from the doctor. That conversation, one year ago today, was my father’s death sentence. We drove north again that night. I couldn’t stand the idea that my dad would be alone for his last night on earth, even if he was medically sedated. We arrived late and I sat in the cool blue of his hospital room, trying to sleep sitting by his side, feeling his sweaty, swollen hand, listening to the aggressive hissing of the breathing machine.
The news that would come in the following hours would only get worse and worse. I would look at him and thank him for making the decision easier. It became crystal clear he wouldn’t pull through, and letting the doctors continue intensive treatment would only degrade his remaining dignity and our own mental reserves.
Late tomorrow afternoon the half dozen of us were finally assembled and as I walked into the ICU crying for what had not yet happened, an elderly volunteer pulled me aside and gave me a long hug. She cried, too, for me, for my loss. She didn’t say anything, didn’t ask any questions. But she understood.