I remember the night he left us. It was very cold and you had called to tell me he was having a hard time breathing. I wish I had jumped up and traveled to your door quickly, but I did not. I had spoken with him the morning before when he had sat up and asked me what time it was. “What time is it Joe?” “It’s 8 O’clock Dad.” He settled back into his bed and I was not sure if he knew what was actually going on. He was resting a lot.
You did call me after the fact and when I did arrive, I had only moments to see him before he was wheeled away. He was no longer breathing and finally resting in the hospital bed, his large frame clung to the side, perhaps holding onto the rail. I do not, specifically recall. His hands were his hands, but his body had been slowly giving itself up to survive, food no longer providing the nourishment he needed.
I have never been able to meet death as others appear too. I do not mourn or cry in the sense that I have lost them. They are, for some reason, still there, but visually inaccessible. Perhaps this is my way of dealing with the loss, to avoid the fact that there is one.
To this day, I still feel he is with me. I tend to believe in reincarnation or some form of return to the physical world and yet, I have no personal proof of this. There are stories of other people who have proof, sensationalized in news and documentaries and I do believe there is truth in them. After all, our minds and thoughts appear to go beyond the physical form in all, we as a society do and achieve.
I wonder still- where he might be. What is he doing? Is he building something out of wood or rocks? Is he finally sailing the boat he so often spoke of having after he would win the lottery or a fabulous hand of Black Jack at some Las Vegas casino?
I wish I could feel his spirit nearby like others claim too. I have often called out asking his advice, but nothing seems to appear. Nothing tangible I can put my hand on, to say yes! Thanks Dad. I needed that.
And then I thought the other day, while dangling precariously from a Palm tree, looking at the beautiful ocean, the ocean he dreamed of, to be on, to sail on. The thick salty air wafting fully into my senses, surrounding myself and the others all working together in unison to care for the land we live on, in the middle of the sea.
I thought … perhaps, his soul is not out and about as one would think, but perhaps, just perhaps, his soul has hitched a ride in my heart in this able body, living in this land surrounded by the sea. Perhaps he is, after all within me and my hands are his hands, once again doing something, building something out of wood or rocks, planting a tree or finding another to help, because … we can.
Perhaps, my dream of sailing the sea, to the Marquees Islands, Cook Island and on to New Zealand is his dream after all.
Our lives move forward, the sun rises and sets and if we are fortunate, find joy each and every day, find food and companionship and something to make us smile, and just be.
Coffee is always nice too.