Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Death of My Father

(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.


  1. my mother entered the hospital on st. patrick's day. she died on may 5th. cinco de mayo. for all that time, she lay there. dying. how i wish i could have been by her side to turn her oxygen down. this was a final act of love. may the powers that be smile on you for having the courage to show more time. xoxo

  2. My mom was in a drug-induced coma for two weeks in the ICU while sepsis ate its way through every system if her body. Despite everything, all I wanted was for her to live. I wouldn't have been strong enough or selfless enough yo do anything else. Then again, before the two botched surgeries that led to her being in that ICU, she had wanted very much to live, to walk without pain. I couldn't have brought myself to have done anything to work against that.