After fighting an unwinnable battle with cancer, when he couldn't summon one more breath -
he decided to call it a day. He's gone.
I have regrets. That he will never see my story. That he will never know what I could really become. That I couldn't do more for him. Or give him the life he deserves. I'm sure he has an equal number. We didn't get a chance to talk about it. We took him to the ER two days ago, fairly confident we'd bring him back after some treatment, much like every other time. Except, this time, he went to the MICU and never returned.
His lungs had filled with fluid, any oxygen they gave him was not enough, his heart was failing and they said he wouldn't survive the night. He did, that and then the next. But then, as if sensing our anguish and to spare us the grief of having to see him struggle for air any longer, he let go. Even then, not at some ungodly hour of the night but at his usual wake-up time in the morning after a glorious sunrise, so as to not inconvenience us and give enough time to plan his send off.
Caring and gentle and above all, incredibly kind. That was my dad. A big smiler. A big dreamer. A big family man. A big friend. A big everything. He had any number of flaws but they were just never big enough to overshadow the rest of him.
I saw this again at his funeral today, when we kept running out of chairs despite us having had no time to get the message out, how many lives he had touched in some way or the other. He had a generosity of spirit that was vast enough to always include, always extend a hand even to those who weren't always grateful or deserving, and forgive, when things went bad.
But for me, he was more than all of this. He was my best friend, my confidante, my partner-in-crime. I called him for everything. After hearing of a shot-gun wedding in the family, my mom wryly told me that she has no worries on that count because even if I were planning to elope, I would have called my dad for help. I would have. Without a doubt. He would have helped. Without a question.
My failing, as I presume it is, for so many of us, was to assume we had more time. Even otherwise, I suppose we wouldn't have told him any of this. He knew. I knew. That's all that mattered.
Now, I face a world that's lonelier than ever. But if I went complaining to him, he would say what he always said when I spoke of fairness - that life was life. That it was going to be a mixed bag, sometimes happy and joyous and sad and brutal. That I just had to make the best out of it.
So, I will try to do that. I will miss him more than anything else and if there was any spell, any sacrifice, any prayer, anything at all that could give me my dad back, I would do it. But there isn't. So, the best I can do is have him live through me.
At my funeral, I hope to be half the person he was. It would have been a life well lived.