What I meant to say

Normally I use this to share my comedy and as an outlet for my snark and a place of levity but today I can’t do that. Today driving to work I realized that exactly three years ago today was the last time I spoke to my father. It was a Thursday and he called the night before to let me know that he’d gone to urgent care because he didn’t feel well and was having trouble breathing and they set him up with a bed in the hospital in The Villages in Florida. I called him as soon as I could because my dad was always a stubborn man who resisted any and all urges to see a doctor so the fact that he actually went to an urgent care was a big deal. The fact that he was in the hospital was a big deal, but I hid how worried I was because I knew he was already worried and knowing that I was too would just upset him more. I didn’t want to do that. I wanted him to get better so I could watch him open the awesome Redskins sweatshirt I’d gotten him for Christmas. I wanted him to get better more than anything so I could make plans to play golf with him so I could hear him give me such great pointers on my game as, “Hit the ball straight.”
But he didn’t get better. He got worse and they went from a partial oxygen mask, to a full one, to a ventilator and a medically induced coma because despite being a teacher and not medical professional he kept trying to extubate himself. Did I mention he was a stubborn man? Four days after I spoke to him, he died. Fast forward back to the present day and I’m sitting in traffic trying to hide my tears because I was raised to believe that a proper Emonds woman doesn’t cry in public unless at a funeral and then we only do so grudgingly. He was a stubborn man who raised a stubborn child; two to be precise. Anyone who’s ever tried to tell my sister anything can attest to that. I’ve been telling her to quit bossing me around for the past thirty years and she still does it from time to time. Alas, I digress. As I sit in traffic today I’m not just choking back sobs. I’m choking on every word I never got to say to him.
If I knew three years ago that I was talking to my dad for the last time, I would’ve said everything and I wouldn’t have cared how long it took or that I was at work while saying it. If my supervisor questioned my prolonged desk absence I would’ve told them that I had to handle something and it was more important to me than my work will ever be. I would’ve said that despite the challenges our relationship had, you see because when you’re a stubborn child raised by a stubborn man you’re bound to have some challenges, that he never stopped being my hero. I would’ve told him that he never stopped being the guy who took time off from work when I was six to come to my school and carry me up and then down the stairs because I was on crutches and he was worried that I’d fall and deep down I never stopped being the little girl who knew that she wouldn’t fall because Dad had her.
I would’ve told him that I wouldn’t last ten minutes in law school and he most likely would’ve gotten a call to bail me out of jail probably for throwing an absurdly large textbook at a professor but his faith in me meant the world. I would’ve told him that I wasn’t as into golf as I was spending time with him and that’s pretty much the only reason I played. I would’ve told him that I loved him no matter how crazy he drove me. I would’ve told him that I knew everything he did to drive me crazy was out of love for me. I would’ve told him that everything I did to drive him crazy was to make him proud of me.
If your dad is still around, call him. Seriously do it right now. Call him and tell him what he means to you. While you’re at it, call your mom and your siblings. Call everybody who’s important to you because SPOILER ALERT: we don’t live forever. Tomorrow’s not promised and the world is and has always been a bit of a scary place where anything can happen. I know what it feels like to leave things unsaid and the regret that goes along with it and I don’t want anybody else to feel that. I’d give anything to tell my dad, who by the way taught English, that this post was supposed to be a bit of a free-write but I’ve carefully edited it. Twice.

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