Fifteen years after my father died suddenly, had he finally come to say goodbye?
This originally appeared on Modern Loss. Republished here with permission.
On a bitterly cold January day, when I was 18, my dad had a heart attack. He was found lying on the ground, alongside the truck he drove for a living. By the time help arrived it was too late. He was 53.
There was no warning. My father simply vanished from this world. When the day began, when I left for school in the morning, he was here, in all his green-eyed, robust aliveness. When the day ended, he was gone. There would be no tender exchange of love and thanks, no last embrace.
Fast forward 15 years, and that 18-year old girl was now a 33-year-old married mother of four.
One summer morning, as I stood awaiting the bus that would take my kids to day camp, I chatted with another mom about a mutual friend of ours whose father had just passed away. The man had lived a long, full life, before he became ill and died. He was a wonderful man, I told the other mom, and would surely be missed. And then: “At least they had time to say goodbye.”
I went on to tell her about how my own father had died, how the suddenness of his death added immeasurably to the trauma of loss. Because ever since that cold January day I have fought the fear that someone else could be taken from me suddenly and too soon.....
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