I've thought a lot about what love is since I got divorced. Not silly new relationship crush love, but deep, true, eternal total acceptance love. I've wondered if I had that when I was married, what that feels like. And the fact that I was wondering about it made me think that maybe I have never felt that kind of love...one of those if you have to ask then the answer is no.
My dad's dying. As I type this, I am sitting in room 10 of the Treasure Coast Hospice House, listening to his labored breathing, watching his shell of a body merely exist. It could be hours, it could be days til he dies. We don't know.
It all seems so sudden to us all, though I think that is more because we chose to ignore the signs. He was diagnosed with Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis a year and half ago. They told us the life expectancy was 2-5 years. But, we thought, doctors can be wrong. He coughed, all the time, eventually having to be on oxygen. He was tired all the time; walking from the kitchen to the bedroom was enough to make him sleep for hours. We should have seen it getting worse, realized what that meant, but we didn't. He saw doctors who suggested it was this or that, tweaked this medicine, changed that one. He got worse, we weren't ready to see it. So last Sunday, when he could't get his breath my mom took him to the ER. They didn't even tell my brother or me because they thought they'd be home that night. Monday they let us know he was still there. I talked to him Tuesday, by Wednesday he was in a full face mask and Thursday I flew down in a race to get here before he died.
I've spent the last 6 days with my dying father and now I know for a fact that love exists. It's palpable here really, the love in my family. Things I never thought I'd have the stomach for I have done in an instant for my dad. We've held hands, talked, laughed, reminisced. I am lucky we had the last few days to do that. We all thought we'd have more time. We always think there is more time.
The last thing he texted me came two nights ago. "I love you so very much and want only happiness in your life. Love Dad." I am numb right now, watching him, feeling his hands grow colder. I know the heartbreak is coming, though right now I am wishing for a peaceful end to his life.
Logically I know I will survive, that I will continue to exist, that overall I will be OK. But I know I will never be the same without my dad alive. But for the rest of my life I know that yes, I have had love for another person, my father, my friend, my hero, my cheerleader, the man who made me feel like I was the most beautiful, special person in the world. I am forever grateful for that.