Warning: This work has been rated 16+.
Omar flew in on the seventh. I love my brother so much that it was easy to forget, just for a moment, the reason why he flew in. You know, I told my friends at work, “My brother is flying in today.” I didn’t tell them why. They didn’t ask; it’s close enough to the holidays that they can make reasonable assumptions.
My fiancé and I moved our wedding date to the twenty-fifth, you know, so my dad could make it. So my dad could see me get married. I even started romanticizing the idea of it, even though it wasn’t the wedding I wanted. Omar told me there was no use crying about it, that the universe wasn’t going to pause for my wedding. So I already mourned the wedding I wouldn’t have. So instead, I thought, Clint and I started dating five years ago on the twenty-fifth. We’re getting married then because it’s our anniversary. We just can’t wait, that’s why we moved it up.
On the sixth, I sent out digital invitations to our friends and families.
But on the eighth, when my dad came home from the hospital, his body frail and withered, his right eye black and bloody, our family reunion was joined by the nurse, the social worker, and the chaplain. The three of them told us that they were here for us just as much as they were for my dad. Their job was supposed to be to make sure he was comfortable. You know, as he could feel himself dying. There wasn’t anything more the doctors could do. None of the treatments had worked.
We just were too late.
It was too late from the beginning.
We didn’t catch it in time.
I don’t think my dad was comfortable at all. My dad, who constructed all the furniture in our living room, who built the shop from the ground up, couldn’t even sit down without his face contorting in pain. He was still hurting from the lumbar puncture and from the bone marrow biopsy. And to me, it seemed like not even the morphine was working.
My mom told us what my dad said to her the day before, that she must regret it all. He told her if she had to do it all over again if she knew she would outlive another husband, that she wouldn’t have married him. He said he was sorry that she had to go through all of this. And she told us that she told him she’d do it again. She would do it again and again because he gave her a beautiful life, he had raised six beautiful kids, good kids.
My dad was quiet when he arrived back home. When he did speak, his voice was raspy and hollow. It was hard to understand him, and I felt terrible asking him to repeat himself. I asked him what he wanted from the grocery store. He wanted cookie-dough ice cream, Tillamook cookie-dough ice cream. I got it for him. We had to help him into his chair at the dinner table. He only had a couple of bites of his food.
He said, “I’m sorry,” to my mom. My mom told him not to apologize. He had a couple of bites of his ice cream too.
On the ninth, my brother came into my room as I was writing a draft I will probably never post here. I closed out of the document. Omar asked me what my plan was for the wedding. He said, our dad probably wouldn’t make it to the twenty-fifth, and if he did, we probably wouldn’t want to celebrate with our dad dying in the other room. He said he didn’t think it would be possible for my mom to host at all. So, I texted all the people who I had sent an invitation to. I canceled my bridal shower, and I moved my wedding up to the sixteenth. I told them it would just be a brief ceremony.
My siblings, Clint, and I went to my littlest sister’s basketball games on the tenth and eleventh. On the way there, I told Clint everything was terrible, everything was awful. I told him I couldn’t see my dad like that anymore. I wished it was something quick and sudden, like a car accident, so then at least all of this would have been over last August.
On the twelfth and the thirteenth, my dad slept in his bedroom. Every time I went to check on him, he was asleep. I kissed his forehead and watched over him. My dad was in pain, and his breaths were short and shallow; blood was filling up his lungs. He was awake one time I went to check on him, and I told him, "You don't have to say anything, but I want you to know that I love you." That was the last thing I ever said to my dad.
In the kitchen my mom was arguing with Omar; she wanted to take my dad to the hospital for platelets, but my dad told her no. She wanted to take him anyway. Omar asked her, “Would you rather die at home or in a hospital?”
On the day my dad died, I was summoned for jury duty. I drove by myself to downtown. The frequent trips to the hospital made the drive easier. I arrived at the courthouse at 7:40 am. I went through security and followed the others up to the fourth floor where we had to wait until we were called. I read a book, ate a pack of cashews, and sipped on some apple juice.
They called the jurors with the tan name tags first. And then the blue, pink, green. Finally, they called orange. I was juror number 25. I sat in the courtroom as the judge asked us loads of questions to make sure we were impartial. It was some civil lawsuit about a car accident that happened in October of 2018. The judge then asked us if there was anything that would make it difficult for us to focus on the trial. I raised my number and told them my reason: “My dad is in hospice.”
They dismissed me.
On the day my dad died, I left the courthouse at 10 am and arrived at work at 10:15. I joked about my jury duty, about how I was dismissed, all while not telling anyone the real reason I was dismissed. We talked about songs, books, and movies.
I was still at work when my mom called me at 4:14. I answered the phone in the back, “Hi, I’m at work.” My mom asked me if I had read her text, and I hadn’t.
“Oh, okay, Hija,” she said, “When you’re done, just come straight home. Your dad isn’t doing very well.”
On the day my dad died, my supervisor asked me if I wanted to leave fifteen minutes early. It just so happened that my fiancé came to visit me at work right then. After I collected my things, I walked up to him and told him my dad wasn’t doing well. I asked Clint if he would come home with me. He said yes.
I drove home from work. When I got there, my aunts were at the house. They were sitting on the couch. My mom was standing in the center of the living room. Her arms were crossed over her chest and there was a tissue in her right hand. Her eyes were swollen.
She turned to me, “Hola Hija, you’re home.”
I walked up to her and hugged her.
“Your dad died. Omar and John were here with him.”
“Around three,” she told me, “Would you like to see him?”
He could have been sleeping, if he weren’t so still. And I wanted to touch him, to shake him awake. But I didn't, because I knew he wouldn't wake up, not this time. It was all over. My mom hugged me and we cried. She told me that he was so proud of me. She told me that he wanted to see me get married, that he loved me so much.
I already knew all that.
"You don't have to say anything, but I want you to know that I love you."
He knew I loved him too.