I am not sure of the reasons but lately I have been having some extremely vivid dreams of my Dad. Dreams of my Dad healthy and happy are rare and always leave me feeling uplifted when I wake. Unfortunately my dreams of him almost exclusively involve him dying, leaving me waking up feeling despondent.
My dreams of the past two nights have been especially upsetting because of both the content and the vivid nature. In my dream we are back in my Dad's hospital room, preparing to be released to home hospice care. Looking into my Dad's eyes I recognize the same expression that I saw 16 months ago when this dream scenario was real. It is as if I am replaying the video through my sleep.
I don't know why I didn't recognize the expression in real time, and why it has taken me over a year to realize what he was trying to communicate. He was terrified, and needed me to be patient. I think he knew that going home on Hospice care meant imminent death. He was scared.
Instead of being patient, I was pragmatic about the situation. Perhaps it was my own survival instinct, but I knew that it needed to be done and was working towards making the transition a reality. His transition to Hospice became my new "to-do" list.
I wish I had just slowed down and held his hand a little longer. He wasn't ready to go home. As I was packing up his hospital room, I think he surrendered to the reality that he was terminal. Transferring from the hospital bed to the transport gurney, I witnessed the last time my Dad's feet touched the ground. He had tears in his eyes as he was wheeled out of his room and down the hallway for the ambulance ride home. I am haunted by bearing witness to my Dad accepting and ultimately acquiescing to death.
I know that I could not have halted his death, but I do think that I could have been more patient during his struggle. I find myself wracked with guilt for not doing more, for not being more loving and for not staying in Texas longer. He died four days after I left. I know that he wanted me to stay, but I left anyway.
I have been on an emotional roller coaster since these dreams surfaced. I have a difficult time even verbalizing my feelings without crying. I'm typing this blog with tears streaming down my cheeks, hopeful that putting words to my emotions will help heal this newly opened wound.