Thursday, August 16, 2012


I posted on fb that I felt as if I had dived under water in May and haven't resurfaced until yesterday.  The world that I am resurfacing to is filled with signs of fall coming on, the summer is over and I missed it all.  But I wouldn't have missed a moment with my father.  

I haven't been able to write much these last few months, but have tried.  What I have accomplished in writing are two things.  One, my father's obituary, he passed away last Friday afternoon.  The second piece I wrote is called One Breath.  It's not something to be published in an ebook, but simply a processing of the last few months.  I share it here with you now here.

One Breath

It was one deep, gasping breath.  We had just turned the lights out and I was still awake, when I heard her breath erupt from her lips.  One deep breath, one last time.  I was eighteen years old, fresh out of high school and on the verge of college.  She was 55 years old, a mother of five and grandmother to seven and on the verge of heaven.

I walked down a dimly lit tunnel as we bought her coffin, picked out her clothes and eventually the casseroles stopped arriving.  Just my dad and I were left at home and I stayed with him, putting off my education.  We breathed uneasily together, not sure who we were anymore in ourselves and to each other, with this black hole between us.

Eventually I went to college and he began to find out how to live again.  My father and I found new footing as he built a new life in a new state and traveled with a new woman.  I became not only his daughter but another’s wife.  He was still my father, but no longer to girls, but to grown women with their own families.

We danced in and out of each other’s lives but we each had our own sand castles to build.  Sometimes I was there all night he was sick.  Other times I turned away when he reached out.  But he was still my dad, and we knew there was love between us.  Even when we weren’t loving.

He found out that the day of his last breath was near.  I breathed in the short breaths of tears as our family spent every moment we could together.  Not for years had we all been together so much.  The “someday” “sometime” dreams had become now or never.  The dreams quickly became unfulfilled wishes.  We settled instead for visits and every moment we could squeeze out of each day.  Then the moments became less and all that was left was love between us.  

His breathing became labored and slow.  It was on a Friday when he let out one breath - one loud and raspy breath.  I was 38 years old, married and on the verge of peri-menopause.  He was 77 with 5 children, 14 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren on the verge of heaven.  

I have heard both of their last breaths as they let go of this world for the next.  One breath on earth, the next in heaven.  Effortless.  

We are left behind, filling our lungs with the life of this world.  One breath after the other, until one last one takes us home into Heaven.  

My Father's Last Birthday Party; middle row, center, wearing a hat.

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