My sister called saying Dad is in the hospital and probably not going to make it. I fly home the next day, well not really home, but back to Iowa, flying into Waterloo airport on a prop plane and feeling nausea. My sister meets me and we go straight to the hospital. It is late at night and quiet, only the beep beep beep of monitors, smell of tubes and clean linens, Dad on his back and breathing. I take his hand or does he take mine, either way, he has my hand and holds it up and far away from himself just like he did in life. I was never good at making small talk whether people were alive or dying and now is no different.
Years before when Mother called me from the heart patient ward of the hospital, probably the same one Dad was in, she wanted to talk about dying, how people around her would die in the night, and she was losing her faith and I couldn’t help her with what little faith I had. I only could listen to her voice as it fell further and further from the hope she had always carried with her. I often regret that I did not have the Word to give her strength, that I did not know God to help her be strong in her faith. Now Dad was dying, Dad who never wanted God. Dad, who said, “When you’re dead, you’re dead.” Dad who never talked about Jesus or told Bible stories like his mother did. Who went to church twice that I know of, once when I was baptized and when mom died. Now he was dying, and no one really had anything to say.
My sister and I left the hospital and slept at her place. Dad died on Memorial Day. I regret I didn’t have more to say.