“How are you?” said with such care and feeling. Coming from a place of charity and heart. And these days so often from someone I don’t know very well. I feel as if I’ve no choice but to take a gulp and say,
“I’m okay,” which of course I’m not. My father just died. After a two year battle with lung cancer, his body succumbed to the disease. Leaving a hole. A stone dropped through the fabric of my biology, leaving torn threads that cannot be sewn back together. I was there, with him, when he left. I had the privilege of seeing his passage, and also the horror of experiencing what it feels like to see someone leave. He left peacefully, a few gasps, a loss of breath, then gone.
He was not old. Being on the ‘right’ coast and him on the ‘left’ I didn’t watch his fight with cancer. He had smoked most of his life, when he told me he had cancer, I knew that his habit had taken its toll. His vacancy feels ‘too early.’ I certainly was not ready for this. I figured I would have him for longer. I think we all ‘know’ that our parents will pass sometime in our life. I don’t think we really understand what that means. Our parents have been there from the beginning. From the always. They were what brought you to be. Having the loss of the one who started you gives way in the mooring of your being. A looseness to the security in your life.
It is what it is. Everyone goes home. Every last one of us will pass on. You wonder about the fragility of life. People seem so solid so real. What force is strong enough to cause them to leave? Can the person decide to leave? Is it weakness to leave? Or do you just know that it is time.
His timing certainly didn’t seem ‘right.’ His timing seems abrupt. My stepmother assured that God is in control and it’s not for us to question. I do, though, not with an angry heart, or out of a place of hurt, but a place of confusion. He was only seventy. Many men will live a lot longer than he. Some men that are not so kind and genuine as he was. Some men that certainly had worse habits than smoking. Much worse. Shouldn’t we be killed by more devilish vices?
I love him. My mouth is filled with regret. Words I should have said sooner. Calls I should have made. Time I should have spent. Those things that are harder to shrug off and say, ‘it is what it is.’ He was the only father that I got. I can’t learn from this and spend more time with him now. Can I turn this into some lesson for my own parenting? Certainly, but not yet.