I'm still here. Still doing it. Checking to see if dad is breathing, checking to see if I'm breathing. We're both breathing and I'm not sure either of us wants to be. We're listening to Willie Nelson and enjoying laborious and mostly spilled sips of water, and occasionally playing the most depressing game of charades in the history of mankind as I struggle to understand his last requests.
Thankfully, hospice is full of real, live grown-ups. Upon this realization, the complete terror abated for the most part but it's still lurking around, reminding me that this is scary and horrible and we can't do it, even while we're doing it. While trying to fall asleep on my roll away bed at the foot of his, I would find myself hoping he would still be here in the morning and then praying that he wouldn't. This constant push and pull of the inevitable and what is the best for him, and the unthinkable and what is the best for me. Hoping for the end seems both insane and humane.
On the advice of the pamphlets they keep bestowing on us, I've told him he can go. I've promised him that what's next is a great adventure, and that he already won this fight and it's time for the next big thing. Last night he told me he had to go, and I thought maybe we were finally on the same page so I said, "Yes, you should go. Go ahead and go, dad, we've got it covered here," but then he asked where the car was and was trying to get up. I told him he was being picked up and that he was ready, that whenever he wanted, he could go. But I guess his ride still isn't here.
The hospice people are so nice. Sometimes I'm unsure if they are trying to keep me company or if they need me to keep them company. Okay, I'll pet your therapy dog, I say more for their sake than mine, wishing my hands weren't about to smell like dog. Okay, we can say a prayer, I say before retreating back to my own thoughts as they start. Okay, we can talk about how long I've lived here or the island I grew up on, if you want. I've even considered crying for their sake, because I sense an air of concern and expectation that I should. I encourage my mom to run her errands in the morning so she can miss these well-intentioned but exhausting social endeavors. These are good people, these are amazing people, I am just not capable of being one of them right now and luckily, I'm sure they understand.
And every few minutes, I think, "Oh God." It's not a prayer, or a plea, or an admonishment. It's more like my new version of breathing. I've tried actual praying but it doesn't bring me any peace. Instead I visualize every loved one I've ever lost, in every minute detail I can recall, each one of them individually, and then I beg them as a group to please come get my dad. That if I've ever needed them, if he's ever needed them, if we've ever needed them, it's now. That we're tired and we can't do this and to please come now and save us all.
And I spill water on him and ask, "What did you say?" so often that I cringe to hear it and sit here and listen to Willie Nelson with my dad while we wait for his ride.
I dread its arrival, with every ounce of my being, and yet I hope it comes soon.