THE DAY MY DAD DIED (AS HE MET MY DAUGHTER)
I had just turned 40 and was pregnant with my daughter after years of infertility and failed attempts. My dad was 82 and healthy as all get out. He had tripped and fallen down the stairs. He survived with several broken bones and a month later he was in a rehab facility getting stronger when I got a call.
- •My sister called me.Dad had a pulmonary embolism and was in the hospital non-responsive. He was brain dead and they were keeping him on the ventilator until we decided what to do.
- •I called my doctor40 years old. 32 weeks pregnant in a high-risk pregnancy. Years of infertility bullshit. In hysterics. She got me in immediately, checked me out, and extracted several promises from me before signing off on my flying back to Chicago.
- •We fly back homeI think I paced the aisle the whole 2.5 hour flight alternating between feeling numb and crying.
- •To the hospitalThe shell of my wonderful dad was laying there. It wasn't a hard decision to make, we knew it was what he wanted. He had been clear on his wishes since watching my mom die 16 years earlier. But, it was an impossible decision to say out loud. My sister and I cried and nodded to our husbands who had to say the words.
- •We gathered our familySome of our cousins and his "special friend." She was working and her asshole boss would not let her leave early. We told her we would wait. She quit that job shortly after the incident and retired.
- •We stopped the machineI started talking to him. "It's ok to go" "we're here, and we love you" and so on. He was deaf and he had no brain activity, but how can you not say good bye to your dad? So I kept talking, softly. Every once in a while my sister and cousins would join in. But really, this was my job.
- •His numbers started droppingThe doctor told us he wasn't sure how long this would take. It took 10 minutes, an indicator to us that confirmed he was alive only because of a machine. I stopped expecting any sort of miracle.
- •Just then my daughter started kickingAnd I let out a small laugh. This was an on-going joke through my pregnancy. She rarely kicked when anyone was around, particularly my husband. And once someone put their hand on my belly, she'd stop. Little stinker.
- •And she kept kickingBut this time unlike almost every time before, she didn't stop. So I stopped holding my dad's hand and placed it on my belly.
- •I said through my tears, "well dad, it seems someone is insistent on meeting you. I'm sorry it has to be like this."
- •She kicked into his hand several times.
- •And we watched his blood pressure rise while she was kicking.
- •Then she stopped.
- •And my dad passed away, after stopping to meet his granddaughter along the way.
- •I love you, dad.