And All I Can Do Is Keep Breathing

It’s been two months now. Two months, 8 weeks, 64 days or 792 hours – or approximately 20 calls. But these are just numbers. What do these numbers do? They make me old.

I feel as if I’ve aged at least 10 years in these last two months. My dad – the one person I could always count on and could always go back to – died 64 days ago. It was a thursday. He wouldn’t call on a thursday. He knew I always had my dancing classes on thursdays so he’d call me on friday. Sometimes he forgot and we would talk to each other a little over half an hour before I had to start. Of course, I was already in the changing room and he’d moan about the bad reception at the gym. Dad would ask me about the pas few days. Even if we already talked two days ago. Hey, a lot could have happened between then and now. He’d also call every time we had visitors. What’s the rumble in the background? OK, dad, let me tell you again…

He was a soul. As long as he was around, I could be mean and hurt and act like a child, because you know what? I WAS a child. What did it matter that I am 24 years old, trying to be someone on my own? He certainly didn’t care. I was his little princess. He didn’t spoil me like one, but he always wanted to. It made him sad that I couldn’t afford a driving liscence. He couldn’t afford it either, so he thought he failed as a dad. But that didn’t matter to me. He helped my boyfriend and I move into our first flat together. He bought a car – you couldn’t really call it a car as it was falling apart, but it could drive and carry his tools – and he’d be spending all of his remaining free-time helping us. Drilling holes, fitting the kitchen, redecorating walls. Everything. He had to make sure I was alright and safe and happy in this flat, before he finally gave in to his condition. Driving away from me was the last drive he undertook. Walking out of our flat to his car were the last steps I’ve seen him make.

He won’t see the Everglades. His wish to live the last years of his life in a little wooden cabin with a fireplace were never granted. He will never see me dance in my wedding dress or join any birthday parties for his grand-children. He can’t celebrate the completion of my training  with us. Not really. He won’t be there with us any more steps of our way. Not really. He’s a memory now.

My throat is closing around a rock-hard lump that would not go away. I don’t know if it is the flu or another storm of tears, but I’m successful in gulping around it. It’s true, I miss his comforting words, the way his voice would soften around the edges when he talks to me and his stupid jokes that were only funny, because you just didn’t expect him to make one now. But I know this is good. I know him passing away was good. Would I want him suffer? Would I want to watch him decay slowly? Would I want to give him just another pill that would do the work instead of one of his organs? No, I wouldn’t.

I have to say it is easier to bear than I thought it would be. Dad was prepared. I know he was. And he also prepared me. And I prepared myself. I spent a year abroad, I moved out, we didn’t had any loose ends that would never be matched. I’m on my own two feet and I have been for the past 5 years. I can do this and he knew that. What I didn’t expect was the way I grew; the way I aged. I’m not a child anymore. I want to be treated like a grown-up. Of course, I wanted that before. But there is no king’s throne the little princess can hide behind, when the evil witch gives her barking laugh. She has to stand up for herself with a hand on her shoulder, invisible to everyone else. Everyone but her.

A hand that would weigh down on me and remind me, that this is all that’s left. Do I remember him often? Oh, do I! Everytime I look around. There are lamps that should have been hanging weeks ago, doors that need a patient hand and new paint and a couch that really needs to be replaced. Yeah, Dad can handle it when he comes by the next time. Only, he won’t. I have to rely on my own skill with tools and the opinion of greedy workers at the department stores. I can only shake my head at them every time they come up with another bad solution to my problem. I know Dad would enjoy these little episodes.  He’d laugh and say: “Sweetheart, that ain’t stopping you, right? Get the big machines out of their boxes and drill, drill, drill!”

Two months, 8 weeks, 64 days, 792 hours, 20 calls. And all I can do is keep breathing.


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