Hours went by as we all took turns staying by my dad’s bedside. There was no movement as he laid in a coma.
I barely left his bedside all day.
I talked to him as though he could hear me talking—about the blizzard outside, the smelly supper in the hallway, and then bawling my face off asking, “How am I going to carry on with this wedding? How will I carry on with life? Who will do my taxes? Who will routinely check on my RRSPs?”
I wondered If he could hear me.
Then, something magical happened: my fiancé came to pick me up and suggested that I go home and sleep for a couple hours and he would drive me back. I gave my dad a kiss on the forehead and said, “Good night, Dad. I will be back.”
And suddenly with all the strength my Dad could muster, his eyes popped open, he reached out his hand and stared at me intensely. One might mistake his look as one of pain, but knowing my Dad, he took every ounce of strength to give me his final words of wisdom to me with his look.
With no words, I completely understood what he was saying to me—the information poured into my thoughts, just by looking into his eyes.
“You will be fine, you are strong, you are capable. Remember everything I taught you. And enjoy life before it’s too late.” I remained there until his eyes closed and then went home to rest.
A few hours later, he passed.
Today marks eight years since my father’s passing.
My dad had passed away three weeks before my wedding day. He wasn’t just my dad, he was my very best friend. He was the first person I called when I needed anything.
When he passed, my whole life had to re-balance. I had to relearn my life without my dad, and it was devastating.
“How are you so strong?” people asked me.
The circumstances could have sent me down a terrible road, but I learned that when bad things happen in your life, you have to embrace and love all the good that comes in as well. Everyone has a different story, but what matters is how you tell your story.
Though it is unfortunate that we lost him so early, I am eternally grateful for having my dad in my life. He was full of kindness, honesty and unconditional love for his kids.
Before he had slipped into his coma, he said that he had it on good authority that he didn’t have much time and he made sure to have a heart to heart talk with each and every one of us. He told me that he would not be at my wedding but he would be there in spirit, and that I should enjoy having our family and friends to celebrate love and life. Those had been the last words he spoke.
That very last moment with him completely changed my view on life—I saw it with fresh, new eyes.
I appreciated being healthy, walking outside, being able to move my limbs and smell the fresh air freely. I realized that I am capable of anything, because when we have our health we have everything.
I learnt how important it was not to wait for the things I wanted—in one year we bought a house in the country and had our first child, and our second followed shortly after.
My advice to you is:
Enjoy watching your parents interact with your children. Ask them for their favorite secret recipes, ask them about their childhood and their stories about being a rebellious teen. Enjoy every moment—because in a moment, it will change.
Be real with your issues, but do not allow the negative stuff be your story. And tell your parents, and everyone who matters to you, that you love them.
Ask yourself: how can I make a difference here? What am I going to do with my time?
Life is precious, life is swift, and life will change in a moment. Try to cherish and see what’s best in your life in the present moment. Bad things are going to happen and people are going to hurt you, but don’t let it be the reason to close your heart.
We are not here to suffer.
Author: Alicia Nardone
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Mikael Kristenson/Unsplash, Author’s Own.