1461 Days

It’s been exactly One Thousand, Four Hundred and Sixty One days since my Dad passed away.

Or for the mathematically challenged: 4 years.

Death has a strange characteristic.  I still remember his death, the moment and the days leading up to it, like it was yesterday.  Yet at the same time, his life and my time with him seems so distant that I have a hard time convincing myself that he ever existed.  Even looking at photos, seeing his name on his tile at the mausoleum, touching things that were his – all of it seems surreal.

No matter how long ago he passed though, I have a feeling that the wound will always be torn open the week before that date.  This week for example, I was totally normal, and then on Mondy night it hit me like a train.  My husband happened to walk into the room the moment it hit me and he knew what was up.  So he hugged me and held me for awhile – telling me that he had been thinking about my Dad too.  The world seemed to stop.  For those few moments while I sobbed, it was like we were back by my Dad’s death bead, watching him take his last breath.  This time though, the hand that had once held my Dad’s bony, cold fingers, was empty.

For those that don’t know, my Dad was diagnosed with stage four liver and colon cancer in December 2004.  His cancer was so bad that his doctors did not expect him to make it past 6 months.  He fought for eighteen months.   It was a hard trip to the end, and it was an abrupt end at that.  I only realized how close to the end we were at a block party at the end of May ’06.  There I noticed how jaundice my Dad was – literally glowing yellow whites of the eye.  That realization struck me hard, and I dreaded every day after that, expecting the worst.  Even nearing the end he was constantly reassuring me, telling me it would all be alright.  I’m not so sure everything was alright, but it will have to do, I guess.

The last “true” moment I had with Dad was two days before he passed.  He had lost his vision and was bed ridden.  I had a realization that everything wasn’t settled: the will, finances…I’m a planner, and we weren’t fully ready.  I went and tried to talk to him.

All he said was “I love you”

I asked if he knew who he was talking to, and he responded “JayeBird” – my childhood nickname.

That was it.  Those were the last words I got.  The rest was up to us.

That night he went in to a peaceful coma.

The morning of the tenth I went to work as usual, and after work visited the apartment that hubs and I were moving in to on the 11th.  Dad was waiting for me.  When I came home he took two final breaths.  The breaths right before death are very long.  The body is so far gone that it doesn’t require as much oxygen to keep going, so it was quite awhile between breaths.  Those two breaths enabled me to get to his room, hold his hand and wait for him.  I remember holding my breath, trying to force it on him so he could take one more, and one more.  Not so silently, and not so peacefully (those last breaths are rather heavy) that last breath came and went.

Silent tears flowed.  I kissed Dad’s forehead and choked out an “I love you”.

Then I made my phone calls to Mum and my best friend.

Julie drove over the second she heard the news to be with us.  She came in and stood with everyone in the room with the body.  Julie, I still don’t know how you did that. You are awesome.

As hard as that day was, I got through it.  The following days, weeks, months, and the past few years, I’ve gotten through it.

I am very fortunate to have the best Mum, brother, husband and friends/family in the entire world.  Without them, I don’t know if I would have gotten through it.

Dad, we miss you so much.

I wonder if you would have been a lover or a hater of the series finale of Lost.  Which seems so appropriate in it’s finale…You loved that show.

I still wonder how you would have felt when the world was told that Pluto was no longer a planet.   I’m sad to have missed out on the conversations that it would have spurred.

Everyday, I remember all the good times we had, how much you helped shape me into the person I’ve become.  I’m so thankful you were able to be part of my husbands life – even for a short time, because you made quite an impression on him in that time.

We had a great time with you, and we will remember you always.

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11 thoughts on “1461 Days

  1. Jaye! You know how I feel about the virtual hug, but I’m holding you in my heart today 🙂 I’ve often wondered about you being a Jaye-bird. I really like that.

  2. Thanks for the post Jaye. Thinking of your dad, especailly today. He left much too soon, but not before leaving an impression on many people and lots of good and funny memories.

    As I often do when giving my parking spot up to a senior citizen, I remember an incident in Canada while visiting with your dad pulling into a spot that he had been waiting for when a senior citizen came pulling in, thinking they had the right to take it from him and announced so.

    Also, when my first engagement was broken off, your mom said to me, “Peter didn’t like him anyway, he had a limp handshake.” LOL. I remember bringing Uncle Bill to Canada the first time and after introducting him to your dad, then sitting with you mom after everyone had gone to bed anxiously asking–did Peter say if he had a firm handshake–good thing the answer was “yes,” I had his approval.

    • Oh the handshake! It was SO important. I guess my hubs’ handshake passed the test then 🙂

      • Must have. That standard rubbed off on me, because ewwww, I hate a limp handshake!

    • I know I’m late posting on this… but yeah, Dad was all about first impressions and handshakes were very important.

      Like Dad, I can’t stand a floppy handshake. Nothing irritates me more than someone who can’t put forth the effort to do it properly…

      Bird, Derek has a perfect handshake… I’ll be the litmus test for Dad from now on out =)

      Dare I even say Dereks’ is like Dads’ to a T? lol

  3. oops, I wasn’t finished.

    The first time I visited your mom and dad in England, I flew over with your dad. At 15 my idea of travel clothes was a dress and high heel shoes. Someone should have told me to dress differently–keeping up with your dad going through Healthrow, with his one step being equivalent to 5 of mine, and wearing high heel shoes was difficult to say the least!

    Then I couldn’t get my ears to pop and it seemed like we drove for hours to reach our destination to your mom. He gave me every idea possible to clear them, and I finally had to tell him they had popped so he would leave it alone : ) –big mistake since it went into the next day and I had a horrible headache from it and clogged ears.

    Good memories.

  4. Peter was, above all else, a gentleman at heart. I can’t tell you how many parking spots he had given up prior to standing his ground that time! In England, once, down in Bournemouth, we were driving around for a parking place so we could go walk on the beach. In the little parking area, we’d driven around for several minutes, us and another car with a gentleman driving and three little lady passengers. We were driving in opposite directions so we’d pass each other through each lane of the parking lot. We started laughing because we were waving and it was getting really funny after doing this for 15 minutes. We finally decided to take the car home, and grab the bus back to the beach. Just as we were leaving, someone pulled out of a parking spot! Instead of taking it, Peter blocked the spot and we waited for our new friends in the other car to come around to take it. We were very unpopular with several new arrivals; we obviously weren’t going to pull in, we were just stretched across the spot, waiting and refused to move. That was Peter!

  5. Jaye, I just got around to reading this post. I was thinking of you and Pee-ta (the original Pee-ta, I’m sure Suzanne Collins got her naming ideas from your dad) on the 10th. I’m so glad you called me that night, I know you’d be there for me if the roles were reversed. 🙂 Love you girl.

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