It is so hard to believe that it has already been 19 years since I last saw his face, heard his laughter or smelled his Old Spice aftershave. We still have a few of the flannel shirts that he insisted on wearing each day to work and a few of his tools are still in our tool chest.
When I close my eyes, I can relive March 28, 1992 as if it is happening again. I can recall every detail of the day with such precision, it sometimes scares me. It was the day that our lives were changed forever. It was the day that my Dad finally (and courageously) ended his battle with lung cancer.
When my sisters and I woke up that morning, the door to my father’s room was closed. It was usually open and the Hospice nurses would tell us “good morning” and we would walk in to give my father a kiss on the cheek. Nurses were rushing around and told me to go downstairs and they would tell me when it was time to see him. My sisters and I ate our breakfast and were told that we would be spending the day with my Uncle Bob and Aunt Marlene! We were giddy with excitement!
After we finished eating, the nurses told me that I could go in to see my father. Although he was pretty out of it because of the high amounts of morphine and sedatives, I told him that I would be at Uncle Bob’s for the day and that we would watch Star Trek when I got home. I kissed his cheek and told the nurses goodbye.
We spent the day playing, swimming in their hot tub, and in the evening, we went to see Beethoven in the movie theatre. On our way in, I asked my Aunt Marlene if I could buy a Troll doll for my father. I picked out the perfect doll which he would love when I gave it to him when we came home.
During the movie, I remember having such an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach that something was not right. I asked Marlene if we were going home soon, and she said as soon as the movie was over, we would go home. Turns out, the time that I had this awful feeling was about the same exact time that my father took his last breath.
Since this was the time before cell phones, Aunt Marlene drove us to her house to check in before bringing us back. She was told that my Uncle Bob was on his way back to pick us up and bring us back home.
Since it was late at night, my sisters and I dozed in the car for a bit on the 15 minute ride home.
Upon arriving home, my mother greeted us at the door and asked us to come upstairs. We looked over at the door to my parent’s room and it was closed. This was not abnormal, so we thought nothing of it.
She took us to the porch off of my room and asked us to look out the window at the twinkling star in the sky. She explained that it was a laughing star, and that was Daddy. We all started crying and I remember not believing her and running to the door of my parents room. I swung the door open to find a made bed, no machines, no nurses and no medications strewn all over the dressers. I absolutely lost it and began crying hysterically.
I remember feeling relieved that he was no longer suffering, but I also remember wishing that God had chosen someone else instead.
At the funeral, we were embraced by family, friends, strangers, and my father’s coworkers. So many people coming through the receiving line, and each one had a look of sorrow for my mother who would now raise her three daughters alone. As a 9 year old, and the eldest daughter, I remember feeling as if I needed to step in and help my mother to care for my sisters, which I still feel like I must do to this day. My youngest sister, Kate had just turned 4 and was not understanding why Daddy was not alive anymore. It truly was a hard and emotional time.
Not a day goes by that I don’t think of my father, my laughing star. I know that we will be reunited one day, but I do miss having him here with us in person. We know that he is here with us at all times, but to see him one last time would be a dream come true. I love you and miss you every single day, Daddy.