(This is being offered as a piece of fiction. Although nothing could be proven this 10 years later, I would not publicly admit to the type of felonious conduct that has no statute of limitations. Let this be what I wished I had done, then, if I had possessed enough courage and enough love. And if you know me at all, well, then you know. )
He looked so small then, laying broken on that hospice bed. He weighed well under 100 pounds, and I could tell which lung had collapsed just by looking. The last time he had moved was 2 weeks ago, when I first stepped into his room fresh off the plane: he sat up and hugged me, and laid back down. That was it. The oxygen mask was laid against the hole in his throat: the Dilaudid pump had been turned up until he stopped frowning.
He hadn't frowned for days.
I took the night shift that night. My chest felt so heavy: my heart felt thick and swollen: and I knew. I remembered all the times over the years he had said, if I ever get like that, please just shoot me. Just shoot me.
I looked down at this man who had beaten and tortured me throughout my youth, this man I had plotted to kill so that he couldn't hurt my brother anymore: this man who was dying slowly and hideously, of cancer. His wife had died 3 months ago, and it broke him. He loved her. He died not knowing how little she loved him, and I will always be grateful for that. I loved him. He was my father.
I kissed his forehead, and turned down the oxygen: not off, I couldn't stand the thought that he might struggle. But down, way way down. And I sat next to him and read a book. I refused to watch. If he had moved, I don't know if I could have done it: but he let go easy. I looked up an hour later, turned the oxygen back up, and called a nurse. He was dead.
I knew it was what he wanted: I knew he was never going to get better, and that he was in pain, terrible pain: still, it was one of the hardest things I have ever done.
I loved him so much. He was my father.