The other night I dreamed that I was visiting Dad, except he was at home in his own bed. He was sitting up on pillows and when I walked in I said "hey Dad". He replied with an enthusiastic "hey Cindy!". I then asked him how he was doing. He grumbled that he was awful. He said that he just couldn't get out of that bed and he was tired of being there. The dream sort of dissolved from there as dreams often do. I ended up on a bus carrying people to a mass gay marriage ceremony. I still have the crook in my neck from riding that bus. But I know it was all a dream because the last time I saw Dad, he wasn't talking. He held my hand, but only because it was a hand to hold. Not because it was mine. I left that day thinking that I'd never go back. That was the last visit, as if he's already gone to me. I didn't and don't see the point of it. When I awoke I half expected to get a phone call telling me that Dad had passed, that he was tired of being in that bed and left. Expecting or hoping? You know how people play that speculation game when one of their friend's is expecting? I say that baby is going to be born on this day! We've started to play this game with Dad, speculating on his passing. It's not as fun as predicting a birth. Some of us think he'll be with us for another year or more, while others believe it could be any day. I have no opinion. I remember how doctors gave Chris six months and he made it two weeks. I cannot predict or speculate or even guess. So far Janell has been the lucky one. Her visits seem to always land on Dad's good days. She can even get him to eat. The rest of us have been left with his bad days where he is either sedated or just not present in his body. You can see in his eyes that he's gone off to some other place, leaving a shell of himself behind. I've seen too many of the bad days to not want to see more.
There was an evening recently where Michael and I met one of his college friends for drinks. The subject of older parents and loss came up. She had had a difficult year with it all. Michael added that we were going though similar trials with my Dad. When the friend asked how I was dealing, Michael answered for me saying "she's taking it hard, she's close to her dad". I just sat there in silence, staring blankly at my plate. Part of me wanted to pipe up and tell him not to speak for me. He doesn't know. It's something I never talk about. He hasn't been around long enough to even know if I'm close to Dad or not. All he's heard is the goofy stories. He doesn't know about the years that I wanted nothing to do with Dad and that the very idea of being left alone with him sent me running to my brother's house for a whole summer. Except he does know those things and I don't really have to talk about any of it for him to see it. He knows that it was Dad that showed up on my third day of being completely alone after Chris died. It was Dad that some how knew exactly how to deal with me, not mentioning a single thing about death or Chris. Just a simple "hey, let's go on an adventure". Just like the old days. I was the kid that was game for anything. Dad would mention airport hopping, seeing how many airports we could hit in one day on his standby pass, and I was on board. You want to see what's causing all that smoke way over there in the distance? Let's go see. You want to ride every plane out here at this fly-in? Sure, climb on up. So I don't have to say anything really for Michael to know that this is hard. He speaks for me because he knows that I won't speak of it or if I do I'll just color code it and say "it's not so bad". Because that's what I do.
I am the one that is hoping that Dad doesn't last a year or more. I know that sounds terrible and even slightly selfish. It is inconvenient for all of us, the whole process. But it's most inconvenient and awful for him. I'm sure if he could talk to me he'd tell me that he's tired of being here, that he's ready for the next adventure. And I'm ready for him to have that too.