I messed up, I had left it too long and then it was too late.
I was on my bus to work when I got the call, I was the first to arrive and I sat alone. I felt so small.
He was always alright, and he was always in and out of hospital so even though the thoughts that this time was different had been pushed to the back of my head, something had stolen my breath and hidden it. I don’t think I breathed again for the next 15 hours.
I sat alone next to him and I remember the sun shining through the window. The room was bright, and my eyes were drawn to beyond the glass. It was quiet, just the gentle noise of the breathing machine. I sat silent just like we always did in the car. We were never big talkers, but we never needed to be, we knew what the other was thinking and we were just happy in each others presence. My love for him returned in full while I sat in that room, happy memory upon happy memory raced through my head like camera flashes and all the petty shit no longer mattered, he was my dad and I would always love him.
My mum was also in the hospital two floors below my dad, years had passed since the divorce but her love for him never faded and so I went to her, got her into a wheelchair and brought her to him.
For the first time in too many years to remember we were a family again. All three of us in the same place at the same time and it was beautiful, my mum’s eyes met mine and she could see how small I had become in the moment and so she held me, I cried like I was a child again. time seemed to stop, she held his hand and I held hers and for as many minutes as we could we held onto that moment, together.
It was time.
I held his hand like I did when I was learning to walk, like his hands were the strength holding me up, I was defenceless to the emotion that followed but I held on to him until I was alone again in the room, my eyes searched his face trying to take in every detail as not to forget in the years to come. My breath returned, and I stood up and whispered my final words. They were simple and to the point. We were never the type to be mushy. I repeated words that I’d heard him say a million times.
“see you when I see you Jonesy”
I walked out the room leaving him there, never to see his face again. He was 53.
You see, love is so strange, it leaves us, and it returns just the same to teach us valuable lessons. You may think the love has gone, but loss taught me that love that was lost will find its way home in the end, even if sometimes just a little too late.