My Father’s Eyes
I see dad lying in his hospital bed. mom and I are walking in the room.
“Rose,” he says to mom. “I am so happy to see you. I feel better now, because my mother came to me in my dreams last night.” He spoke in his new, weakened voice as he tried to raise his emaciated, yellowed frame from the bed. I was stricken at the scene. It was the most powerless I had ever felt in my young life. Radical praying had not helped. The Lord had been silent—at least I thought so. What came next stunned me to my core and started a lifelong process of searching for answers.
I remember my mom’s conversation with her sister Ann.
My mom had said to her sister in front of me one day, “How would you feel if you had to go to bed with your husband each night knowing he was dying?” Even though I was just a young teenager, I was engulfed in sympathy for mom. Dad was on a path over which she had no control, dad had no control, and I had no control. From his words, I knew he had been scared and powerless. How did he too feel to go to bed with his beautiful wife, the mother of his children, each night and know that it might be the last?
The words stunned me as he spoke them softly. “I am not afraid, Rose, because last night my mother came to me and told me not to be afraid, that she was waiting for me.” The wonder of those words engulfed me. What mystery is this that remains unrevealed to the world?
The next day, mom came for me at my part-time job to let me know that dad was gone. We cried together on the way home to get my younger brother. I remember little, except that the world continued to sing songs on the radio, and people were shopping and driving around town. People were playing, working, and doing their everyday chores while our world had stopped. I wondered about that, how the world can drop from focus when someone you love and depend on dies. Did the world shut down for us alone?
I see now in my reverie how we cry, we mourn, we suffer emotional pain, and it all bears out that a hole has been opened in our hearts. We are deprived of love from another human being. That is why we have the empty feeling, the uncontrollable sadness and grief. The hole in our hearts is a wound that comes with the escape of that love source. If we could see it, it would be as though a river of blood was pouring out of us.
When I looked into my father’s eyes, I saw reflected there a love so great that it would be difficult for any man to fill his shoes. This love lost was a formidable void that overwhelmed not only me but mom and my brother as well. We did not know the meaning then, but now I see it. All that matters is love, the giving and acceptance of love. It is the only gift in life that everyone is free to give and take, the only one that travels with us when we leave.
My Father’s Eyes