Finally, after a week of working hard in school, it was a peaceful Saturday morning; until my mom and brother burst into my room crying, hugging me. The news crushed me like a steam-roller. “Dad passed away,” she sobbed. My heart dropped and I felt as if I took a bullet to the stomach.
I couldn’t stand those eight long months of watching him suffer from lung cancer. Now, it was over. My mom left my brother, Mark, and I alone and shuffled downstairs to comfort my uncle who still stood by his brother’s lifeless body. We wept in a silence so painful it felt like needles piercing through my skin like some kind of emotional acupuncture. Afraid to make eye contact, I sat there clutching my old Dalmatian stuffed animal, like a six year old.
My uncle came to check on us and it was weird to see him fighting tears. I always saw the nearly seven-foot man as big and strong, the way I’d seen my dad. I could tell how close they were by that. They were the kind of brothers who rode bikes and bonded by laughing hysterically at Jim Carrey movies, things my dad did with Mark and I. But not anymore. He lead the two of us downstairs and I crept across the kitchen to the room I’d been dreading immensely.
There he was, lying there in that hospital bed that had been invading my house for too long. His skin was already a pale gray, hand across his chest and his mouth still slightly open as if to say “I wish I didn’t have to leave you.” My mom stood embracing us as tight as she could as I stared at him. He was so sick that his face aged about 20 years, his body thin, and his feet were swollen as a side effect of the treatments. That sight could’ve killed me too.
Then my mom informed me of the lady that would be coming to take my dad and we’d have to say our goodbyes. I took a deep breath and bent down to give my dad one last bear hug. I dripped a couple of tears on his gray t-shirt and embraced his cold body. No one, I know for sure, besides maybe my mom and Mark, could understand how hard it was to not feel him hug me back, and no longer feel his chest moving. There was no breath. No heartbeat. No life.
Of course I wish that day never happened, but I think that in the long run it made us all stronger people. If I ever feel sad about it or wonder if my dad would still be proud of me, I find comfort remembering that the last thing he said to me was “I love you.” Robert John Fisher, 1962-2007, was a great man, a friend, and the best father I could’ve ever asked for. I’ll always remember the most important thing he taught me through all of this whether he knew it or not. Live life to the fullest, because it truly is too short.
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