Death Of My Dad – pt 1

I’m not sure what caught my attention about her as she walked onto the skytrain. Maybe it was the exhausted way she dragged her oversized duffel-bag behind her, even though it was only six-thirty in the morning. She bent over awkwardly sideways trying to balance the knapsack she was carrying over one shoulder. It looked, like despite her effort, it was going to slip down over her arm anyway.

Luckily, the train was still half-empty so she was able to have one of the single seats which gave her room to drag her big, wheeled duffel close beside her out of the way of embarking passengers. She placed her knapsack on her lap, turned to the window and went still.

Not just still – unnaturally still.

If I hadn’t seen her come in I would have assumed she was a statue. Well, except for her thumb. Her thumbnail rubbed back and forth over the centre of her bottom lip. The movement was so small I almost missed it.

She fascinated me. I couldn’t take my eyes from her.

She had her cell phone gripped in her hand, pressed against her duffel-bag. I could hear it buzz against her luggage every few minutes. She’d check her messages and her lips would tilt up ever so slightly then her eyes would close and she’d take a deep breath. Her shoulders shook, just a bit until she seemed to get herself back in check. When her eyes opened again, there was an extra sheen to reflect the rising sun.

Suddenly, I understood.

I wanted to catch her eye and offer her comfort but the few times she looked around, her glance skipped over people and focused on silly things. Like to where the upright pole attached to the ceiling or the empty place where an ad should have been in the overhead marketing slots.

Her sadness was almost tangible, at least to anyone paying attention. The guy, sitting across from her, was oblivious.

She looked back out the window as we entered the tunnel. For a brief split-second, our eyes met in the reflection.

In that moment of clarity, I realized that she, was me.


This was the start of my journey home.

My brother, Scott, called me Wednesday night to tell me Dad had an aortic aneurysm. He went into cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital. They took him immediately into surgery and he was given a 10% chance of surviving the surgery.

I was on the earliest flight I could get. Hence the 6:30 am skytrain ride.

The flight across the country was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Even harder than giving the eulogy at his funeral.

Being out of touch for the 5 hours between the gate at Calgary to the gate in Halifax left me in a panic. Was Daddy going to die? Would I make it in time to say goodbye? and then chastising myself for letting doubt seep into my thoughts. Dad was strong, healthy and stubborn. He’d be fine.

I broke down in the middle of the airport in Halifax. I had a three hour layover and there wasn’t an earlier flight I could catch. I could probably drive just as fast, but by then I’d been up for so long I could hardly stand, let alone attempt to drive.

Mom didn’t need to have two of us in the hospital.

The plane from Halifax to Saint John was cute. A little, ancient looking 16 seater. It gave me the comic relief I desperately needed.

When I got to Saint John less than an hour later I was calmer. I was home, Dad was still alive and Mom was at our house trying to get some sleep. She’d been up for over 40 hours by then too.

Day 1 complete

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