At the end of my Christmas vacation, I spent a lot of time in the nursing home. My Pappy wasn’t doing to well, and they knew it wasn’t long until the end.. Then all of a sudden it became just a matter of days and then a matter of moments.
When he was still alert and awake, I listened to the last words he’d say. He told me that he’s at the height of his life in that moment. That he loved me. Not to smoke marijuana. He knew it was the end, but he asked whether or not we could all have dinner as a family if he got to feeling better and it broke my heart.
The next day I sat there holding his hand, and he stopped taking breaths. Then, very very slowly, his heart stopped beating. My little sister and I were the only ones in the room, then my mom and dad showed up soon after. I never expected him to be one for big gestures, but snow flurries started flying around outside at that exact moment. His nickname had always been Snowball, and everything about it was fitting for him. He said goodbye, that he loved us, and sent a brief comfort in that.
In the recent days, I’ve been missing him more than ever. I wish I had taken more pictures. I wish I had spent more time. I wish I’d never told him how much it bothered me when he told me not to wear lipstick or that I didn’t need make up. I wish I could sit on his bed while he watches the NASCAR race.
You never realize how essential someone is to your life until suddenly they’re gone. I always knew he was important and how much I loved him, but I never realized that he’d be gone one day and that it would hurt so bad. I wrote an entire speech for his funeral, then got up there and couldn’t say a word of it. I just rambled and told everyone how much he loved them. It shook me.
That’s the thing about someone dying… No matter how long it’s been expected, or how sick they get, you cannot prepare yourself for someone you love to exit the world. It never feels right, or natural. Even though you know it’s inevitable.
In the days after, you become painfully aware of the changes. I keep his pictures in my room at home and when I see them I miss him even more than I already do. I know he’s no longer in pain, I know he’s in a better place. But I haven’t found any comfort yet. I’m just waiting to feel better.
I thought when I tried to write down my feelings that I’d know what to say, but I still don’t. Tell your family you love them. Be as kind to every single person you meet as you can, whether or not they deserve it. Be cheerful and embrace life while you have it, because it doesn’t last forever.