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Our last night

This is a piece about the last full night I spent with my Dad in hospice. We are one month out from his death so I am feeling tender about the experience, still so heavy in my mind and heart.

January 18, 2020

One month, one month ago today we were told you transitioned into an active phase of dying.

As if we all aren’t actively dying from the very moment we breathe air independently outside our mother’s womb.

As if this simple curt explanation could convey rational and reason to your rapid decline. This blanket statement could calm my anxieties, my fears, my loneliness, my gut wrenching shock.

This was the answer to all of my unanswered questions. A stranger’s professional response to my never to be had yearn for a last conversation with you.

Aaaaaahhhhh ok, now I understand- Dad is actively dying. Well that resolves it then.

Hopes dashed. Window of opportunity locked and shuttered tight.

There would be no more you, as I knew you.

Only a shell of the man I called Dad. Frail, thin, gaunt and gray. Almost unrecognizable in every sense of the word. Eliciting moans or unintelligible garble, occasional winces or grimacing, a rare smile. Eventually giving way to calm?, peace?, sleep? I suppose.

I wondered where you were. Were you still here with me? Were you aware on some basic instinctual level that someone you loved who loved you back was present? Bearing witness, advocating, comforting. Trying to ease you to the end of your road, our road together. Going the distance with you as far as the physical and spiritual boundaries of life as we know it allows.

Hours limping by as I watch you sleep?. Breathe and then not. I count the seconds. I wait with bated breath. Burning the moments into my mind many times over as the night ambles on. Each time after these long pauses you gulp air, hungrily. As if coming up from a deep underwater dive. I feel relieved, but should I?

I didn’t even watch my own newborn daughter sleep with such intensity. But I could not, would not turn away from you. What if I missed it? Your final moments.

So I watched and waited. At times lulling into a fitful sleep. Awakened by your heave and choke of inhales.

Morning crept upon us. It didn’t happen, yet. You’re still here. Just another dying human in the active phase of dying while the rest of the world races on in typical morning flurry. I am here. You are not alone. Those that love you, our world has stopped to match pace with yours.

Thanks for reading.




7 thoughts on “Our last night

  1. **hugs** I’m of the mindset that you gave your Dad the greatest gift one human can give another – company at the time of crossing. It’s a wretched thing to do, stand watch over someone in their last moments, unsure if they know if we’re there or not. It hurts to let them go, to feel helpless and scared. You did a brave and loving thing, my friend.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! I agree- a basic human dignity to not die alone

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautifully written. Memories of last moments with my husband and father wash over me. Breathing with them to the last. This was a hard one, felt every word and more. I do believe you being there brought much comfort to your dad. I agree, it is a very brave thing. Thank you for sharing this. Biggest hug and lots of love & light.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Sending you love and prayers. So much love in your heart. He will always be with you and near you.
    Thank you for putting in words how raw your heart is.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much! I’ll take them!


  4. Well written, but also heartbreaking. I’m very sorry you had to go through something like this.

    Liked by 2 people

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