Sunday, October 28, 2012

I've never been very good at goodbyes.

We knew it was coming. His body was shutting down, and we knew it was only a matter of time until it gave out altogether. We prepared for it, trying to be positive but knowing that there was nothing left to do but pray that it would come quietly. He was suffering, alone in a hospital room miles and miles from where we were. The hardest part was knowing that it was coming, but not knowing when.

I thought it would be easier, having time to prepare. The last time I lost someone it was a shock, a surprise, a 911 call and a chaotic rush to try and reverse the inevitable. But this...this was slow. It was waiting and wondering, and your heart skipping a beat every time the phone rang, not knowing if that would be the call.

This morning, it finally was. And I learned that no, having time to prepare doesn't make it any easier. And it still doesn't mean you get to say goodbye. Not that I've ever been good at goodbyes. I usually go for "see you later," or "talk to you soon." But I don't get to say that this time. Even if Heaven is real, it's not "see you later." It's "see you in a lifetime." And with all the faith I've been raised to have, that still isn't a guarantee.

All I know right now is that I'll never get another chance to say things I've always meant to say, to ask him if I made him proud. I won't get the chance to study the lines in his face, or the faded ink of his Marine Corp tattoo, or hear stories from his childhood. I won't get to kiss his cheek or smell his aftershave and cigarette smoke combo, or tease him about driving his Cadillac--which he'd never let me do. And I'll never hear him say "I love you" again. And it hurts.

I've been so selfish, telling God that I'm not ready and asking for a little more time. Yesterday, I finally said that it wasn't fair to make him wait just because I wasn't ready to let go. And I know it was the right thing, and I know that this was best for him because it was too painful for him to suffer, but I'm so torn up. And all I want is just one more chance that I can't have because it's too late and I miss him already.

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