A year ago today, or 366 days exactly I can still recall the phone call that morning. I remember exactly where I was when the phone rang. Driving to work and planning my day in my head, doing what I usually do when I am on my way to teach. I looked down and saw that it was my mom calling me. Surprised to receive an early morning call, I grabbed the phone hoping against hope that she wouldn’t say what I knew she was about to tell me.
“Tammy, have you talked to your sister this morning?” my mom asked.
“Uh, no mom, it is early in the morning, why?”
“I am sorry, but your dad passed away this morning.”
At that moment I felt my cheeks get hot, my throat clenched and I couldn’t say anything. My eyes welled up with tears as I let it slowly sink in. My head became heavy and I felt as though as my mom told me she was sorry we didn’t get to tell him goodbye. I wanted to get off the phone. I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream. I told my mom I would call my sister and when I called we both were crying.
You see my brother, sister and I were leaving the following morning to fly up to Seattle to see our dad. We just found out earlier that week that he had leukemia and the doctors gave him a month to live. My sister spoke with him a few days before and told him we were all coming and that we would all be together. My sister gave me the phone number of his hospital room and told me I should call him.
I never made that phone call. I wanted to talk to him in person. I wanted to tell him that I loved him and that I wish things would have been different. I never got to tell him that. Instead I found myself that afternoon writing to him what it was I wanted to say to him in person.
I wanted him to wrap his arms around me and that he too was sorry things weren’t different. I wanted to lay my head on his chest like I used to do as a little girl and hear his heart beating strongly in his chest. I wanted to hold his rough, worn hands.
Seeing my father laying in his casket hurt my heart to the core. I urged my sister and brother to also write their words in a letter and leave in the casket with our father. The picture we took at the airport we put in a frame and left it with him.
366 days ago, my life changed…