I made up my mind that I would kiss his head and tell him thank you. If I got there in time. And I was grateful that this last Father's Day I had already thanked him. So he knew.
At the hospital I couldn't find which entrance to park by but then I saw my brothers.
When I hopped out of my car I said I hated this fucking place. Where several years ago we knew it would be cancer but didn't know how bad. And where he came for hip surgery after he fell the night before Thanksgiving. The night I had to pick him up off his soiled sheets.
And we laughed, their humor kicking in to help cope and I knew I was related to them.
And as we waited for their wives to return from getting copies of his end of life directives we laughed at the empty pay phone by the front door. The one that still had a phone book in it. And the back of the phone book said in an emergency call 911. And Zac said it should just say "turn around and go down the hall" since we were after all at a hospital.
And we waited because they were moving him out of the ER into critical care.
And we waited. And we found word finds and passed them out and had a race to complete them. The words were animals at the zoo and I won by finding parrot. Zac found mongoose, which wasn't one of the words to find. And we made paper airplanes from the word finds and sailed them across the waiting room. And down the hallway. And contemplated throwing them over the railing into the atrium below.
And we waited more and discussed briefly amongst ourselves that nothing extraordinary was to be done. And we went to the ER only to be told he was about to moved. My brothers had gotten to see him earlier and they told me to be prepared. He was swollen and he was difficult to look at.
And we went back to the waiting room, stopping at the vending machine to get Cool Ranch Doritos.
And we waited.
Caroline curled up beneath a blanket and went to sleep. This awful night stretched into September 2 which meant he wouldn't die on his birthday.
And they finally let us back. All of us, when normally they only let two at a time. And they were not optimistic. He'd been deprived of oxygen for forty minutes but they were still assessing him.
And there he was, his eyes slightly open. The machine breathing for him. They went over his stats but we couldn't understand them. And when they asked if we knew what he wanted we knew we were going to get to that point. It would be later that morning or the next day.
And they let me be alone with him. The nurse brought me a chair and lowered the rail so I could sit and hold his hand. And when she left I put my head down by his arm and cried. I sobbed. The longing to be a kid again is never as overwhelming as it is at this very moment. I thought one day my children might do this by my side. And I sobbed more. Violent sobs though I tried to keep my tears silent. And I stood. I kissed his head and rested mine against his. I told him I loved him. And I thanked him.
Then I left so Zac could do the same. Then Trip.
Then we left to get some sleep knowing we would be back soon for tests and consults. And there would be no optimism then either. And we would wait for that time when we would have to make the decision.
In the end, later that morning, his heart simply stopped and there was nothing more they could do. So we hugged. And prayed.
And became three little boys who had just lost their dad.