We tried to get comfortable in the cold, dark room. But a hard, white hospital floor isn’t made for sleeping even with extra blankets and pillows. Neither is the small chair in the corner of the room. The racket of the machines wouldn’t have let us rest anyway.
Not that we were very concerned about resting. Our main concern was that the transition home went well for Daddy. After the doctors told him there was nothing more they could do, he decided to go home. We were waiting with him at the hospital to help with the move. To do whatever we could. To be with him.
We don’t know why Dad took off the BIPAP mask.
He had tried to communicate with us several times earlier and was aggravated that we couldn’t understand him. Everything he said was distorted by the air being forced into his lungs by the mask. He was already struggling and even more so when he had to repeat himself. We were heartbroken to the point of tears watching him struggle, still failing to understand his words.
Maybe he was tired of the mask and the straps pressing into his face. Maybe he took it off because he wanted to tell us something and he needed us to understand him. Or maybe he knew he couldn’t handle the trip home.
We will never know.
The alarm shrilled as soon as the mask came off. We rushed to him, panicked. Desperately and clumsily trying to put the mask back on. Calling for the nurses. Yelling, “Daddy, Daddy!”
Daddy looked beyond us, holding the tube of the BIPAP machine tight in his hand. We couldn’t get the mask back up to his face. When we realized he was taking his last breaths, we rubbed his arms and face, held his hands, reassured him we were there, told him we loved him. My older sister sang a hymn.
We burst into tears when we realized he was gone. A nurse came in and verified he had no pulse. She told us to take as much time as we needed.
We kept looking at him. Crying. Wondering.
We called Mom first. Then our youngest sister. Then our families.
I walked into the hall, then back into his room. Unsettled. Restless.
Some other family members came to comfort us. We cried together. Lingered there beside his bed.
It felt strange to leave him. We stalled. Kissed him on the cheek. Held his hands again. Told him we loved him.
We left reluctantly. Silently. Exhausted.
Missing Daddy already.