In Peace

by Chris de Serres

I wondered what it would be like to be him.  He was dying.  Things like cars and houses and bills and next month no longer had any value.  You drift between anxiety and fear and regret.  You don’t have any more time to right all the wrongs you’ve done.  You are surrounded by the one’s you love the most.  So you can say i’m sorry for what i’ve done to you in this life.  Yet, life is long and overwhelming and filled with mistakes.  So that is where you leave it.

He died in stages.  In the week before he passed, he looked at his life.  He told me he had trouble sleeping.  His mind was filled with all the events of his life.  All the mistakes.  All the love.  All the memories.  It was a flood that kept him alert and awake.  Then there was the decision to leave.  How does someone decide it is time?  Suffering and pain over long months, over a couple of years.  The gradual taking away of old age and failing organs.  He had a good week about two months before.  He was like his old self, waking up early and doing yard work.  It almost made me believe I had my dad back.  He bought about ten new plants and filled his back porch his favorite flowers.  Then he got sick again and we were back to normal.  Maybe it was this time that broke him.  To feel good, just for a few days, and have that taken away once again.  It broke his heart.

Maybe he saw it as a gift.  One last offering of life.

On those sleepless nights he decided.  I didn’t realize it until the day he died.  There was a lightness.  He was smiling and his body seemed to be floating.  He used few words.  He had little energy but he mustered all of it in this moment.  When he looked at us one last time, as a father.  I felt this energy.  He only had to say one word.  Goodbye.  It was the look he gave that crushed me because I knew this was the last one.

They turned all the machines off.  The only thing left was the pain medications to keep him comfortable.  It was hard, the waiting.  It was necessary.  If not his children to watch, then who?  His heart rate gradually fell.  It fell so low and immediately collapsed.

The nurse came in, pushed the stethoscope to his chest, and shut off the machines.  He was finally with his mommy again.