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Remembering The Last Goodbye

My heart breaks as I write today, realizing that it has been two years to the day since the last time I saw my Dad. I remember it very clearly; he was in the hospital that day, supposed to be discharged. We had big plans to order pizza that night to celebrate, and then Mike and I needed to head home. While being evaluated that afternoon, his oxygen kept dropping, prompting the medical staff to cancel his discharge.

I could see the disappointment in Dad’s eyes that day; he wanted so badly to be home in his rocking chair with his dog beside him. Those 19 days he ended up spending in the hospital took a toll on him and he was tired. We made the best of that evening though, ordering out for dinner… well for Mom, my husband, and me. I kept sneaking him some French fries; just another one of our private memories that no one knew about.

When I left the hospital that night, we said goodbye and I started out the door of his room. I happened to turn around and he waved and said, “Bye Jen!” I remember thinking that was so strange; he usually called me anything other than my name (he had a long list of nicknames for me). I blew him a kiss and left the hospital, not realizing that that would be the last time I would see my Dad smile. The last time I would hug him. The last time we would look each other in the eyes and say, “I love you.”

When I stop to think about it, maybe the oddity of him calling me by my name was a gift. Maybe God gave that to me so that I would always remember it and the smile he had on his face when I last saw him. The warmth that Dad exuded was extra present in that moment, as was the love in his eyes.

I miss my Dad every day, but it’s on days like today that it really hits me. Realizing that I’ve had to live without him for almost two years is tough to handle, but I know that he is up in Heaven now, with that same love for me and my family, smiling on us each and every moment.

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