Sunday, July 29, 2012

Seeking Dad in the sun

My father died while I was running. It was a Monday morning; eight hours earlier, we had all said our goodbyes. The hospice nurse told us she thought he’d make through the night, so when I woke up  and saw neither a text message nor heard a voicemail, I let out my breath a little, put on my shoes, and took off.

For the first couple of miles, I listened to NPR. A little before 6:30, suddenly any sound seemed superfluous, so I pulled out my earplugs and looped the cord around my fingers.
My eyes moved from the sidewalk to the sky, an endless blue canvas without even a sprinkling or a swath of white.

Without even thinking, I said out loud, “Where ARE you, Daddy? Are you in the sun?”

That’s where my friend Judy looked -- a year shy of a quarter-century ago -- for our mutual friend Gary when he died. On this recent Monday, it seemed the natural place to look, and the normal question to ask.

I finished my run around 7, went into the kitchen, cried just a little, and drank some water. I jumped when I heard the phone ring. It was my sister Susan.

“I called Daddy’s room when I woke up,” she told me. “The nurse said, ‘I can’t believe you’re calling right now. Your dad didn’t show any of the usual signs during the night that the end was close. But just now, he took a breath, and it was over. It was very peaceful.’ “

When I could talk again and after I’d wiped tears and sweat from my face, I realized I needed to ask her something.

“Hey Sister," I said. "What time was that?”

“About 6:28, I think,” she answered. “Just before 6:30.”

photo: Erich Schlegel


lindley said...

Beautiful words. I, too, look for my sweet dad in the blue skies, the setting sun - anytime I'm feeling an empty space in my heart and it always makes me feel a bit better, more at peace.

Joni Espinoza said...

He kissed your heart goodbye for now. But you also sense he'll always be with you and you are right. He also spared all of yall by choosing a time when no one would be there to remember his final moments. He wants yall to remember just the good times and never forget them....

LTG said...

Leslie dear, I hear you in my heart so loud and clear. I told you I'd send you an email that meant the world to me when I read it at my Uncle's funeral. Be looking for it. Love you.

hkymomgreg said...

Leslie, it's a "God thing" I think. I had a similar situation occur when my mother passed. I awoke from my sleep to hear the final breath my mother took. In my opinion, it's beyond our human comprehension. I like thinking of these moments as times when God buffers us from the feelings of tremendous loss. After all, He himself suffered a tremendous loss with the death of his son on the cross. God bless you today and every day when you seek your father in the sun!