One year ago this week was the last time I spoke with my Dad. When I said goodbye to him in the hospital, I think I knew that would be the final goodbye.
How many times since then have I almost called him to get his advice, to tell him about a new movie I thought he’d enjoy, or to tell him about some amazing thing one of his grandchildren had done. Every day there are things to tell him, and realizing that I will always have the urge to pick up the phone to call him, but never can, has been one of the hardest things to reconcile about his death.
I remember when I first became a mom, one of the things that shocked me the most was the fact that so many other people- billions, in fact- had experienced this same uniquely intense moment. How was it possible that we weren’t discussing births all day, every day? I feel the same way today having lost a parent. So many of us have done this, have had a giant chunk of ourselves taken away. Bearing witness to life and death, I just don’t think it gets any heavier than that.
Life and death were things my Dad knew about. His career as a general surgeon in Raleigh, NC spanned more than 35 years. He was an "old school" doctor that took time with his patients, in spite of the packed waiting room, sometimes standing room only.
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When not in the office or operating room, he was forever answering his phone, giving invaluable answers to worried voices. He loved being a doctor, he loved fixing it all, whenever and wherever he could.
When I think of him today and envision his world, I imagine him meeting someone new, finding something in common, and probably taking a silent health assessment. Then I suspect he might say something along the lines of, “You know...I could do something about that mole you've got there. Come on by my office. No need to call, the girls will fit you in.”
Because in my Dad’s heaven, there are no appointment books, no procedure codes, no pre-authorizations. There’s just the ability to help a friend in need, and an endless amount of time to do so.