I climbed into his bed and smelled his scent on the pillows. I inhaled deeply, caught every molecule and stored them deep into my lungs. I couldn't hold back the tears. They flowed down my cheeks and pooled on the case-less pillows. Emotion swirled around me, the bed, the room--an engulfing eddy; and I let it. I sunk deeper and wanted to drown...nothing mattered, not even the children and husband in the other rooms of the house.
I came up for breath, was cold, and found his blanket. I shrouded my body and covered my face--his aroma embraced me. Memories flooded and played on the screen of my closed eyelids; I fell asleep.
The next day, Niles put his arms around me and thanked me for being so strong for he and his sister and brother. Looking at him through a fog, I asked him what he meant. He thanked me for not crying in front of them and he added he had heard me in the other room the night before and that he was so sorry.
Death is beautiful.
The sun shined through the windows in Daddy's room. Brent went to work, Lillie went to school. Niles and Forrest slept in. I awakened with a start. Daddy wasn't awake as usual and I feared that he had passed. I looked over my shoulder from the chair I had been sleeping in and saw his chest rise and fall. Slow breaths of peaceful sleep.
Quietly I made my way to the kitchen, poured coffee, and returned to his room. I lit a candle and set it on the dresser by his bed. I gently washed his face with a warm washcloth. His eyes opened briefly and I smiled and gave him a kiss.
Later, I settled into the chair and noticed his breathing became more shallow. Then breaths came further apart. 15 seconds, 30 seconds, then one deep breath and exhale. The room was quiet. The house was quiet.
He passed at the same hour he had been born 76+ years earlier.
Daddy's faith was strong. I asked him what was the hardest part of dying. He said, "Not knowing." "Before or after?" I asked. "Before." he said. I asked what it was that he wanted and he said, "A peaceful passing." He got exactly that.
Daddy's favorite color was light blue, his favorite animal was Dog. He lived on the same land he was born on. He could tell tall tales like no one else. He had a huge soft spot for stray dogs and stray people and never hesitated to help both. He never complained or asked 'why me' or ever said 'this isn't fair' in reference to his cancer. He always looked for the positive. His daughters meant everything to him, and so did his family. He was country when country wasn't cool and he left behind the boots and stetson to prove it.