My dad died on Saturday.
I visited him on Friday (my birthday) and he wasn't doing very well. I asked him if he wanted me to cancel my weekend trip and he said to me "That's the last thing I want you to do. Go have fun."
I spoke to his doctor and asked her if I should cancel my trip and she said "I haven't placed him on critical watch yet, so I think he'll be fine through the weekend." I asked her how much longer she thought he had and she said "A week. Two weeks top."
I sat in the chair next to my dad's bed and wept while he was sleeping.
I kissed my dad on the forehead, said I would be back Monday morning, told him I loved him, and left the hospital.
I reluctantly left for my trip to Massachusetts on Friday night. II was supposed to sing at the Guthrie Center on Saturday night. It took us 4 1/2 hours to drive there, through pouring rain. We got there at 11:30pm.
On Saturday morning at 10am I got a call from the hospital saying that my dad's blood pressure was low and they were going to place him on critical watch to be cautious. I asked his doctor if I should drive back and she said "If you're asking me if I think he'll die today the answer is no, but there's always a possibility. Why don't you call me back at 3:00 to check on him because I will have re-evaluated him by then."
At 3pm I called and the nurse told me the doctor wouldn't be available until 4pm.
At 4pm I was breast feeding Willa when the phone rang. It was the hospital calling to tell me my father had died.
My first instinct was to feel guilty about the fact that my father died alone.
But the more people I talk to, the more I'm starting to believe that my father didn't want me to watch him die.
My nephew told me that when I was out of the room when we visited him on Wednesday, my father said to him "I'm in a lot of pain. I don't have much longer. Don't tell Torrie , I don't want to ruin her Birthday."
Another thing that in a strange way made me feel better is that my dad's dog died on Thursday. He was nine years old, had no known medical problems, and had just been walking around and wagging his tail that morning. He just went to sleep and didn't wake up. Thursday was the day my dad really started to go downhill (I think he waited until Saturday to let go because he didn't want to ruin my Birthday). I think his dog just didn't want to live without him. We didn't tell my father that his dog died. They are together now.
I have spent the last three days visiting the funeral home, writing lists, making DOZENS of phone calls, and planning two memorial services. All with a baby suckling at my breast. You can't imagine how hard it is to call people and tell them that their friend died. My dad had a lot of friends.
I am on auto-pilot. I don't think it's really sunk in yet that my father is gone.
Tomorrow The New York Times will be doing a featured obituary on my dad. I'll try to link to it if I can.
* Update- they didn't make it to press in time. I think it will be in tomorrow's paper. I'll update when they let me know.
You have no idea how much all of your kind words and support have meant to me.
*Update-Here's an article about my dad.