A Last Goodbye

Do you remember the last time you saw one of your family members, maybe even a close friend? Do you remember the interaction you had with them? Did your mind register the way they smelt, what they were wearing, the wrinkles on their face? Were you paying attention to the words you said to them? Did you send them off with a goodbye that would be suitable if you never saw them again?

A year ago today I saw my Dad for the last time. I hugged him for the last time, spoke to him in person for the last time, stood in his presence for the last time in my life. When I think back to that day, those last minutes we spent together I wonder, did I say everything I wanted to? Did I really live that moment and remember all the details I would have wanted to had I know there would never be another one like it?

We had just dropped off his rental car at the dealership in Connecticut. He then drove me back to my Grandma’s house since she was the one who would be taking me to the airport so I could head back to Iowa. I was sad, I always was sad when I had to say goodbye to him. For my whole life I had always been attached to him so seeing him once a year took a huge toll on me. I was so happy that I had gotten to see him last May. But, the more I think about it, I wonder if part of me knew I wasn’t going to be seeing him again. I remember hugging him and not ever wanting to let go and feeling so empty after he walked away. Both of us had tears welling up in our eyes. For anyone who knew my Dad, he wasn’t one to cry. The only times I ever saw him cry was when he would say goodbye to my Brother and I. This time was no exception.

What sticks out most to me though about the last time I saw my Dad was him walking away. I was crying and standing in my Grandma’s kitchen as he made his way out of the screen door. His knees were awful and he also had a sprained ankle at the time so as he went down the steps he gripped his leg and eased down them carefully. He was wearing his black windbreaker jacket that he had owned for as long as I could remember, the same jacket that sits in my closet now. He had faded blue jeans on, he wore them almost everyday. As he walked further away the bald spot on top his head shrunk. I watched as he heaved himself into the drivers seat of his white jeep and listened as the motor started with a screeching noise, I am sure it needed to be fixed, and country 92.5 blaring on the radio.

Looking back, I wish so badly that I had run out after him. I wish I had hugged him one last time, looked at his face closer than I usually did. I wish I had run out so he could have smirked at me one last time like he always used to or watched his face as he exclaimed “babbbyyy” one more time. Had I known that was the last time I was ever going to see him in person I don’t think I would have ever left.

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