These last few weeks have been the most profound and revealing time of my life culminating in my father’s death. An unexpectedly expected death that took none of us by surprise and yet left us all feeling cheated. Unexpectedly. Inevitably, my father’s ninth life here was up. He died surrounded by family, and I suppose, no man who has had time against him for so long, could ask for a better death.
Despite the numerous butchered words we hurled against each other over the years, despite the monsoon of tears we both shed over each other’s differences, despite the missed, unreturned, unanswered phone calls, we both knew that everything was done for love. Everything. Done because of the invisibly tangible strings that tie us without question to our family. And ironically, it was only in the end that we finally saw eye to eye, when we both would sit on the couch and watch my children play. Love. In the end.
At his wake, Gavin held my tears at bay, for the most part, as only squirming, unaware eight month old babies can do.
Squirming. Seeing my dad’s body in a coffin was earth shattering, though not in a grief-laden kind of way, at least not for me.
I looked on him and like my brother, Ayn, felt that he was not there. Why should he be? He was already on his way. A few hours after he died, we were in the car and I was overcome with overwhelming tiredness and fell asleep. Sleeping. He visited me in a dream to say goodbye. A few hours later, Matthew as well as we slept for the night in a hotel room on our way back to Jersey. And, yes, Zander. He would never forget to say goodbye to his amigo. “Migo.” Maybe even Gavin, though only my dad and Gavin will ever know. In a dream. We all said goodbye. And at the wake, only his shell remained.
On November 12, 2011 Elso, my father, closed his eyes, drew his last breath on a hospital bed, and died. This is where his real life begins. A life outside of hospital beds, of being massacred by needles, revealed open by surgeons’ knives, of countless doctors and even more nurses. Free of boxes of medications, of bland food diets, and, in truth, of a body that failed him. Outside it all.
When I’m in bed at night, drifting between wakefulness and dreaming, I see my dad, more alive and well than I have ever seen him. Beautiful. Joking. Teasing. Living. Distant and yet oh-so-very-close. On the fringes. Outside of time. And doing what I picture myself doing one day — Conversing with the Universe.