Where are you?

I just saw you the other day.

You were upright in your hospital bed with a tired smile on your face, crinkles hugging your cheeks. You gave me a hug, your arm curling around my back in a quick embrace. You chuckled. You told me you would be coming home in a couple of days. Don’t worry, you said, You are the first person I would call if I ever needed help.

Why didn’t you call me?

I just want you home.

Where are you?

Why did you lie to me. You’re not home. You’re in the ICU. The wires and tubes attached to you is a maze of antibiotics and pain killers. The long list of medicine you’re on makes my head spin. My hands shake as I take in the tube disappearing up your nose and down your throat. Nothing could have prepared me for this. I hear whispers of something called DNR? They’re going to take everything away. Something about it in your will. I squeeze your hand. You open your eyes blearily.

“Do you know who I am”

A nod from you

“I love you”

Another nod from you.

You close your eyes.

I leave the room.

I just want you home.

Where are you?

A day later the floor is cold beneath the plastic chair I’m perched in and my phone buzzes softly in my hand. I risk a quick glance, not wanting to miss campaigners. As I read the message the world tips beneath my feet. “I’m sorry I had to text you” ….. it said …. “people have already found out”…. My breath comes out in uneven gasps. This isn’t happening. My eyes are wild searching for an escape, a way out, OUT. I abandon my belongings and run for the door. The night air kisses my face and arms circle around me. Rivers create streams down my cheek and thunder booms from my chest. Later, I hug the book you bought me so hard to my chest, that I think it might cave in. They tell me later that you waited for my mom and nana to go home. That you let go when you were alone. I’m pissed that you were still being selfless and thinking about us when you were dying. Why didn’t you let us be with you?

I just want you home.

Where are you?

That is not you.

The person they just showed me in your nice clothes, clasping my book under their fingers was not you. That didn’t look like you.

Where are your thick rimmed glasses? Where is the shadow of a smile? Where is the wrinkles surrounding your mouth? Where is the light that dances in your eyes? Where is your booming laughter?

I say “Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for coming, I know he was a great man, Thank you, He would’ve appreciated it, Thank you for your prayers, I know, I know, Thank you, thank you, thank you”

for 2 long hours.

Lies spout from my mouth as easily as breathing.

I do not want to thank them for coming. I do not care that they are here. Why are they here?

Where is my rock? Where is my champion? Where is my grandpa?

Because you are not 5 feet away from me.

That’s a stranger

I just want you home.

Where are you?

My knees feel wobbly as I walk to the alter. I fix the microphone. My heart is thrashing inside my chest. I take a breath.

I talk about how you were the one who taught me how to drive. You were the one who helped me with school. You were the one who wrapped the Christmas presents. You were the one who showed me how to plant flowers. You were the one who had meaningful conversations with me. You were the one who cooked pancakes for me on Sunday mornings. You were the one who let me win in checkers. You were the one who told me the history of the world. You were the one who came to every single game. You were the one who took me to dinner. You taught me how to lead. You always put a book in my hands. You helped my speaking blossom. You encouraged my writing to grow. You protected me. You stood up for me.

You were the one who loved me.

I just want you home.

I know where you are

Chunks of sand lay over where you’re buried. I sit down next to you and talk about my day. I tell you I’m sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t appreciate you more. I’m sorry I didn’t come over more. I’m sorry I didn’t go to dinner more, or say I love you more, or give hugs more, or talk to you more. This was your last year of life and I let myself get tangled up in school, and working, and friends, and boys, and dragging myself out of my sadness when I should’ve known the way to pull myself out of my black hole was next to you.

So I’m sitting next to you, a year delayed, and sitting upright in life for the first time in a while. Instead of laying down, not wanting to get up.

I miss you, I miss you every day, but I know my Father has you in His arms. And I know that one day, I’m going to see you again. And I’m going to come over more, and I’m going to come to dinner more, and say I love you more, and give hugs more, and talk to you more. One day, I’m going to sit next to you again.

And when I do, we’ll both be home.

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