Word Count: 500
Circle of Life
By Peg Scarano
It was late August and my oldest, Jenny, was heading off to college for her freshman year.
A U-Haul was rented to move both Jenny and her cousin to Oneonta. We might as well make this an adventure. We had two girls, a mountain of stuff and a lot of stairs to conquer.
My dad had been in declining health all summer and two days before the big day, he worsened significantly and was hospitalized. By Saturday night, he had slipped into a coma. My mom asked to have some time alone with her on-and-off again husband of 50 years. (That’s a story for another day). She exited his room misty-eyed but with a serene aura and asked to be taken home. Jenny obliged, taking her two sisters home and leaving my husband and me with dad.
Jenny returned to the hospital and the three of us spent the night reminiscing about her grandfather. There were funny stories; wonderful and regretful memories; tales where I was naughty and the appropriate punishments administered. And then there were the sagas of the years dad made epic errors in judgment and wasn’t such a great father figure. As we threw him under the bus, he just lay in peaceful repose with no expression on his face, never moving.
When morning dawned, I told Jenny to go home, shower, and finish packing to be ready for the 11 a.m. caravan. Rock took her home and I found myself alone with this man I loved all of my life. A nurse I knew very well came into the room and tried comforting me, “Talk to him. People in a coma can truly hear you. Let him know its ok to go.”
I was devastated. He could hear us? Oh my God! Did he really hear everything we said during those long hours of the night? I had a lot of apologizing to do and apparently, not a lot of time. I had been rubbing rose petals throughout the night – like a worry stone. I placed a rose petal and my hand on my dad’s chest and starting talking to him.
“Dad, I’m really sorry about everything we said last night, but, we didn’t say anything you don’t already know. But what I want to tell you now is the most important thing ever. We all love you so much. It’s OK to go. I have your heart in my hand where it will stay with us forever. We will never forget you as you are unforgettable. I love you.”
I looked into his eyes and there were tears running down his cheeks. Chills ran up and down my spine while my heart burst with love for this man. Fifteen minutes later he was gone.
I went home. The caravan was packed and ready to go. I left my mom and youngest daughter comforting each other as the rest of us took Jenny off to begin her new life adventure. As one life ends, another begins.