Saturday, January 1, 2011

Just one more time...

The flight from San Jose to Las Vegas was nondescript. Typical flight attendant speech during take-off, same small bag of dry crackers, and the dull murmur of voices mixed with the occasional hacking cough from the man sitting two rows in front of me. The sky was cloudy gray and offered little distraction for me. I thought about ordering a Bloody Mary to help me relax but decided that I needed to be clear headed to face what lie ahead. I read the same page in my book multiple times before I finally gave up. I tried a few deep breathing exercises but it felt like I was going to suffocate. Napping was out of the question. Couldn't this pilot fly this thing any faster ? Did he not realize that I was in a hurry ?  The question my kids had asked me a thousand times kept running through my head ~ "are we there yet?"

And finally we landed. It was one of those bumpy, hang onto the seat in front of you while saying a little prayer, landings. Of course I was seated way back in the plane. I impatiently waited for the gazillion people in front of me to get their belongings. Jeez, this must be national slow motion day and nobody told me. Do these people not know that I have a situation and I need to get off this  piece of metal immediately? PRONTO. I turned my cell phone on. No new messages. I decided that was a good thing. No news was good news. I worked on my deep breathing exercises as I fought the urge to climb over the seats in order to get off the plane. Did the lady in 22A not understand that I was in a hurry? Obviously not as she decided to stretch her arms, readjust her panties and freshen up her lipstick in the middle of the aisle. I bit my tongue. Somebody somewhere decided this would be a good day to test my patience. Not sure I will be getting a gold star on this one.

I don't think I even responded when the flight attendant and pilot flashed their unnaturally white smiles at me as they told me to have a great day. If they only knew. Parts of that day seem like a blur while other parts will never be forgotten.

I had never been to the Las Vegas airport before so it was rather overwhelming to be greeted by rows and rows of slot machines. People stood at the machines trying one last time to hit it big. It was the perfect location to do some prime people watching if I had been in the mood, if I had nothing else on my mind, if I hadn't felt like I was going to vomit at any second.

I had a very short layover in Vegas before jumping onto the next jet for the final leg of my journey. I was headed to Florida to see my dad. One more time. Over the past few months Dad's health had been failing and I had made many trips from my home in NH down to Florida. It only takes a few hours if I get a direct flight and if the pilot puts the pedal to the metal. Hmmm...do planes have gas pedals ? I must google that at a later date.  But this trip was entirely different.

 I had been visiting my oldest daughter in sunny CA for a couple of weeks. She had recently given birth to her first child and my husband and I were meeting our granddaughter for the first time. She truly is our little sweet pea. We were spending our days cuddling, snuggling and bonding with her. But it was while I was there that I received the phone call that Dad had been moved to a hospice facility. I knew this day was coming. I had been to visit Dad two weeks earlier and it was clear that his life here on Earth was coming to an end. I told him that I loved him. He told me that he loved me. There were no deep revelations or new understanding. There were no apologies given. There were no secrets shared. There was just the love between a dad and his daughter and that was enough. So when the phone call came telling me that he was in Hospice I did lots of self talk ~ " Debbie, you are prepared for this. You knew that this day was coming. This isn't a shock. Buck up girl. Go enjoy your little sweet pea. You said your good-byes. Be strong."   I decided this might be a good time to try out some deep breathing exercises or meditation or yoga since I felt as if I was going to start vomiting violently. So I did what I do best in emergency situations...I cried. Hard. Non-stop. And in the middle of the night I knew what I had to do. I had to get to my Dad's side one more time so I could tell him that I loved him - just one more time.

I told my story to the lady at Southwest Airlines. She worked hard to get me to Tampa as quickly as possible but the reality is that CA is far away from Florida ~ over 3000 miles in fact. She booked my trip for me. I would be by my Dad's bedside in ten hours if you factor in time zone changes which always confuses me.  My next call was to my sister who was with my Dad. I asked her to hold the phone to my Dad's ear. "Dad, I'm coming. I'll be there as soon as I can. I need to see you Dad. I love you Dad."  Please don't die Dad. I'm not ready for this. I need more time.

I walked around the Las Vegas airport with all of its bells and whistles. I needed to find a quiet zone. I needed to call my sister so I could update her on my progress. I wanted her to hold the phone to Dad's ear so I could tell him that I was almost there. I needed to tell him that I loved him just one more time.

I sat down on a hard plastic seat outside of the airport bathrooms surrounded by hundreds of people. I hit the speed dial button which would connect me to my sister. She finally answered. "Deb, Dad passed away ten minutes ago."  No. She must be mistaken. I was pretty positive he was going to wait for me to get there so I could tell him just one more time that I loved him. How could it be that time had run out ?  I needed to tell him just one more time how much he had meant to me. But just like all those people standing at the slot machines, my luck had run out. I had run out of time. Again.

17 comments:

Maggie May said...

I am so sorry. That was really sad.
I missed it for my own dad but that was a long time ago.
New Years Greetings.
May 2011 be a better year for you.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Mike Golch said...

Sorry for your loss.Hugs.

Elaine said...

I am so sorry, Deb. x

Kim Mailhot said...

I can only imagine how it feels to write this part of the journey...cathartic perhaps, yet like reliving the painful parts over again. I know that it will be healing for you in the end, Debbie with the Writer's Soul. It will ease the hurt by sharing the words and the story.
I send big love to your wounded places and thank you for honoring us with the story of your loss. Hugs!

Willow said...

I'm sorry, Deb. The older I get the more I hate the physical separation our mobile society has placed us in.

Hilary said...

Deb, I'm so, so sorry for your loss. Your Dad knows. Parents always do.

SandyCarlson said...

What a tough experience. I am sorry, Deb. That is sad. I think, though, that you were with your dad in spirit and he well knew that. I think the connection goes deeper and reaches farther than we ever know. I wish you peace.

Lauren said...

oh Debbie, this just makes my heart break. I'm sorry to hear about your Dad. I am positive you dad knew how much you loved him even if you weren't able to be with him.

slommler said...

I am so sorry honey that you couldn't make it by his side. But he felt your presence...I am sure of it. I was in your same situation about 25 years ago. I didn't make it either...it was a devastating feeling. I hug you gently!!!
SueAnn

Akelamalu said...

With tears in my eyes I tell you I'm so sorry you didn't make it to your Dad's side in time, but you did speak to him and he knows you love him so take heart in that Deb.

I'm sending Reiki to your Dad to ease his journey home and to you and your family to, hopefully, ease the grief.

I'm thinking of you. x

Brian Miller said...

so sad. sorry for your loss...

i am glad to see you though...

Natalie said...

Dad knew...... love is not physical, Deb.
No distance can break that connection, even if your eyes can't see it, the heart ALWAYS knows.

Jeni said...

Oh Deb, I am so sorry to hear of your loss and especially of your struggle to get there, in time, just one more time. You can tell yourself over and over again, how hard you tried to coordinate things and arrive before he left but we still have to remember than none of us knows the time when the call will come for loved ones, for each of us in time too. Whether you are there or not, physically, spiritually, you were there for him and that is the one that counts too you know. Prayers for you and your family as you begin life anew, with a new year but one with some difficult transitions ahead. Peace and love -may they go with you.

imbeingheldhostage said...

Oh Deb, I am truly sorry. I hope it brings you peace to know that he knew you were coming and he felt how much it meant to you to be near him. Huge hugs Deb.

MyMaracas said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I hope you can take comfort in the thought that you did get to say your goodbyes, though he passed before you could physically get there. I went through the same thing with my mom.

Sending you hugs and hopes for a new year full of happy memories of your dad and joyful times with your sweet pea.

Deb said...

Thank you for all of your kind words and thoughts. I am empowered by your positive energy. My dad did know how much he was loved and I do believe that he is in a better place ~ without pain and at peace. Thank you. xo

Marg said...

Thanks for sharing your story...I thought for sure this story would have a good ending...but the good in it was, that you had actually prepared yourself and gave him all those last hugs just before you left. Now you have your wonderful grandchildren to enjoy and more energy to spread toward them.
It's hard saying good by.

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