Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Why I don't like Christmas Eve

Today is a melancholy day for me. Sure it's Christmas Eve, the kids are all excited that Santa comes tonight, but for me it's the anniversary of one of the worst days of my life. 12 years ago today my greatest ally passed away, my dad. My dad was my rock. He was there to take care of me when nobody else would. Even though he wasn't my biological father, he was there at my birth and for 22 years after.

He was the person I could turn to when my mom was acting crazy, and always knew what I should do to calm her down. He was the one who approved of me no matter what crazy shit I did.

It's been 12 years and today I realize that I have lived a third of my life now without him. I miss him. I wish he had been able to meet my other two children, and I hope he would have been proud of the adult I have grown to become. Actually I know he would be proud.

Twelve years ago yesterday was the last time I saw him. I stopped at the hospital on my way to work to visit him. Visiting him in the hospital was no big thing. He had been in and out of the hospital more times than I could count those last couple of years. We knew he was dying, he had been diagnosed with a terminal illness several years earlier. We just didn't know when. That night when I visited him in the hospital, I knew something was different. My normally stoic father did something out of character. He told me he was in pain. He told me it had been a rough day. As I left for work, on some level I think I knew I would never see him again. At the time the hubby and I were living with my mom and had just had our first child 7 months earlier. He and I were working opposite shifts at the same company so we wouldn't have to pay for childcare. My mom watched the baby from the time I left for work until my hubby came home. I got to work and my husband wanted to stay and work overtime. I insisted that he go home so my mom could go visit my dad in the hospital. They both told me I was being silly, that she could go tomorrow, but I wouldn't give up. He went home and my mom went to the hospital.

She hadn't seen my dad in years. They had broken up when I was 13 and with the exception of my 16th birthday and the time I ran away a few months after that, they had not spoken. Everything she knew about his condition had been relayed through me. Although my mom had moved on, my dad never did, and he loved my mom until that day. I knew she needed to see him, or rather that he needed to see her. She went to the hospital and spent an hour or so with him. She fed him his jello. They talked. They had a chance to say goodbye. The next morning he passed away peacefully around 7 am.

That morning I had to work. I figured I would go visit my dad after work, but since I couldn't shake the feeling I had since the night before, I decided to call him. When I called the hospital they said they didn't have a patient by that name. Knowing that he had been too sick the night before to be discharged the reality began to sink in. I frantically started calling my step mom's house only to get a busy signal. When I finally got through I found that my worst fears were true. My dad was gone. Through my tears I told my boss I was leaving and walked out.

Through all of this I was thankful. I know of many people who have lost loved ones suddenly and never had the chance to say goodbye. Since I knew for years that he was going to die, I had the chance to say everything I ever wanted to say. There were no loose ends when he passed. Like I said earlier, my dad was very stoic. He never was much of the huggy kissy I love you type. I knew he loved me and assumed he knew I loved him too. In the year leading up to his death he was pretty much bedridden. I went to see him almost every day, and forced myself to tell him how much I loved him even though it was awkward. I told him how much I appreciated him, and how I owed the person I was to his guidance and love. When he passed, I had no regrets of things left unsaid. I share this with you today as a reminder to hug your loved ones. Tell them you love them. Don't take any day that you have with them for granted.


LenaLoo said...

Oh Lorna, I'm sorry today is rough for you... You are in my prayers! Have a good Christmas once this hard day is over!

just beth said...

I'm so glad that I had the chance to know him.