Every month I wonder if there will ever come the fifth of a month on which I won't feel this way. I don't think so, at least not for at least a thousand times more or so.
I thought I could make it through the day this time around without writing about my dad or my grief, a new kind of milestone that I feel a weird kind of obligation to reach towards, even though it seems unnatural - and, truth be told, so sad and disrespectful I can't really allow myself to think about it much.
It's been 30 months. My god that's hard to believe. But not as hard as it is not to be able to talk to him except in the format of a one-sided conversation.
Today I've been thinking about the last time I saw him before we knew he was sick, which was on an extended family vacation in upstate New York. My husband, my daughters, and I hugged my dad and my mom goodbye as we headed off towards our respective gates at the airport at the end of the trip; I don't specifically remember hugging my dad then, but I'm sure I did. And I'm sure I thought I would see him at least a thousand times more, with both of us happy and healthy.
I can't help myself from thinking back to things that happened when he was sick, and sometimes the memories and the visions of those things haunt me - like how I used scissors to cut the hospital bracelet from his wrist both times when he came home from the hospital - and how the way I felt when doing so was so completely different on each of those occasions. The first time, he was still recovering from brain surgery and we were still reeling from the news of the devastating diagnosis and preparing for him to go to Duke for the treatment that we thought would save him. The second time, we had brought him home on hospice, to save him from the spiraling misery that was going on in the hospital, with hope of a different brand. The second time, I saved the bracelet after I'd cut it from his wrist; I put it in my purse as if that made sense or a difference in anything that was going on.
At the end of that trip to upstate New York, my immediate family ended up being stuck at the airport in Albany because of a delayed flight due to thunderstorms across the country; my parents made it out on their flight on time. After they's gotten home, Dad texted me to check on us and commiserated with me about the inconvenience of the lateness of our adjusted schedule. "I hope you make it home ok," he texted when I told him that our plane had finally been cleared for take off, the second-to-last time he would text me, ever. And only five months later, I said goodbye to my dad for the very last time, and, in the early hours of the morning later that night, I laid my head down on the pillow to try to sleep and found myself crying so hard that tears threatened to fill my ears. I tried to stop but couldn't, and then I squeezed my eyes shut and felt that same message flash from me to my dad: "I hope you make it home ok," I thought between sobs, and then I added, "I miss you, I can't believe this whole thing happened, and I don't think I can make it without you" - thoughts that would run through my head at least a thousand times more between then and now.