Water drips in the sink. I hear it so clearly as it slides down the metal drain.
One drop after another, falling slower than my heart beats; I try to steady my breath to match it. Deep breaths I remind myself: “Breathe in … hold it … and now release.” That’s what I tell myself, but nothing works.
Eyes squinted, closing …. and I try to imagine another world that doesn’t exist. I think of having my daddy at 35. I see him with a cane, a slow gait and maybe a top hat walking me down the aisle to my gleaming husband. I thought maybe this would calm me; sadly it prompts a crying fit. You know the kind, where you shake and billow over in pain because it hurts so badly. It’s the kind of pain you don’t know if you’ll ever shake but the one you’re desperate to never feel again. At 22 it is an unnerving realization that I won’t have him to grow older with me
Another deep breath and I dry my face. I don’t want to wake him sleeping in this hospital bed. It’s 1 a.m. and as he is lying there, I am trying to sleep in the hard recliner next to me. Every time I turn it makes this awkward noise like the fabric may rip from the base.
He looks so peaceful lying there. His wheezing is minimal in comparison to the rattling sounds his chest was making earlier tonight. I’ve checked his pulse, scared that maybe he wasn’t breathing, just because he is so quiet. COPD makes him noisy, like a motor boat is gliding through water in his chest cavity.
I hate the beeping of the monitors. They remind me of the comatose non-responsive days in ICU when his life was touch and go. I miss it right now, though, because it at least made me feel comfortable enough to slip into sleep.
We will all die. That is the one fact that I know for certain. It is a part of the life cycle, as painful as it may be. I often imagine my life. A white-coat ceremony is my favorite fantasy. I look to my left just over my shoulder and through my billow of untamed curls and I see my daddy. He is sitting there with a grin on his face, his chubby cheeks rising with light and joy radiating from him. I see him holding my first babe; he is such a great grandpa. I can only imagine how much he would love my children.
Another beeping noise snaps me back into reality like a rubber band pops when you have stretched it too thin. Then I’m here. Back in this hospital room, I have been here before, it is all too familiar.
Being here with him in this room is a memory I’ll never forget. It is like the tattoo I got when I was 16. I had “Let your fears go” inscribed on my chest, and ironically I can’t let them go. ... It is like the first time I got drunk at a party, after mixing gin, rum, vodka and half a bottle of wine. No matter how badly I wished I could undo it I couldn’t, and it’s a part of me for all of my days on God’s green earth.
It is like the journey to a goodbye I never agreed to say. It is like drowning in the middle of the ocean I never planned on visiting. It is like feeling as if I exist in a completely different dimension but not existing at all. It is far too complicated for words, and sometimes even too complicated for feelings.
Harmony Chavis is a 20 something from Durham motivated by radical kindness, love and acceptance, committed to figuring life out one day at a time. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org