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  • Writer's pictureLara Karuna

Happy Anniversary Daddy

On this day, Dec. 23rd, 20 years ago we stood around my father’s bed in the ICU watching his blood pressure and heart rate slowly drop drop drop like a clock winding down until it went to zero. We had asked for no life saving maneuvers, no resuscitation. There was no way to save him. Instead we held his hand, hugged him and kissed him as we watched his body slowly shut down.

No one tells you what to expect when you see someone die. In the movies it’s usually either peaceful with the person completely conscious saying some last profound word before shutting their eyes for good, or it’s with doctors all around trying to restart the person’s heart until you hear the cold hard beep of the machine as they flatline. No one prepared me for this. For the violent seizures as his pulse dropped, nor the dementia of the last weeks. It was neither peaceful nor violent. It was both beautiful and horrifying. Completely heartbreaking and yet powerful and wondrous.

Sometimes he was on a flight, a never ending flight,

“The worst flight ever!” I would concur with him.

Other times it was a war, with him shouting directions like a general with more strength and ferocity than most healthy people. He would often turn to me, plotting how we could escape,

“Do you have money??” He would ask conspiratorially. Then recognizing it was his youngest daughter, still in

many ways a kid, “oh you never have money,” with a sigh, turning away.

We had tried to bring him home, but only a day later he had collapsed and the ambulance was called. I was glad we had tried, otherwise his demands to leave, his plots to escape would have been too heartbreaking.

The last coherent conversation I had with him he took my hand tenderly and said,

“You married well, child.” He seemed in touch with a future I had yet to live. I listened intently all to aware that this would be one of the last conversations we would have. He spoke about money, and that I would need to put it somewhere but to be weary of even non profits, as even they could be corrupt. I soaked it in, not sure when I would need this information but convinced it was important.

After that he went pretty much unconscious. His last night I stayed up all night holding his hand while he slept. Twice he opened eyes, a fearful look across his face. I squeezed his hand, grateful I could ease his anxiety.

“I’m here Daddy.” I said. He relaxed and closed his eyes.

The next evening we got a call. The doctors didn’t think we had much longer. I looked at the date. December 22nd. He was going to wait. I knew it. He would wait until after midnight. Until it became December 23rd. The anniversary of my parents union. One last act of love. One last gesture to let us know there was so much more to this world than what our eyes could see. A gesture of control over his death, fitting the powerful man he had always been both in spirit and body. One last message that though his body would turn to dust, his spirit would soar.

At 1:03am the clock to his life stopped. There were no beeps, no doctors, just his family, the ones who loved him most, surrounding him in love. Above his body that still seemed so full of life, I could almost see him. I could most certainly feel him. Like a cloud full of electricity, he floated above, released, elated and free.

In that moment I felt a force, an energy; an electrical current entered me, filling me up with warmth, with power, with love. It took my breath away.

“Did you feel that?” Someone asked. I think it might have been my sister.

“Yes.” We all murmured in agreement. It seemed I had not been the only one. It had entered each one of us. Even in death he was there taking care of us, protecting us and giving us one last gift. A gift worth more than any amount of money- a gift of power, a piece of his tremendous life force.

We were forever changed.

I love you Daddy beyond space and time through infinity.

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