The Last Hug
I see a hallway, a hallway I am too familiar with, that I have painstakingly recreated in all of my nightmares about what happened that terrible, horrible week. I walk down it, but it doesn’t show me what I think it will. I’m at home. It’s early. The sun hasn’t even risen yet. I’m usually not up this early. And then I realize why it brought me here. This was the moment where I didn’t hold on long enough and didn’t say I loved him loud enough.
There’s a 17-year-old standing by the door in her pajamas, and she’s got her arms wrapped around her daddy. She’s thinking that this whole terrible six-month battle is finally almost over, and she’s right – but not in the way that she wants to be. She says she loves him. He says he loves her too. He calls her baby girl one last time. She lets go. I want to walk over there and tell her to hug him one more time, to hug him and not let him go – because maybe if she keeps him there one minute longer, it’ll hurt just a little bit less to let go. I know it won’t change anything. So, I watch as that door opens and closes again.
I do something that I know I shouldn’t. I interrupt the memory, running past the 17-year-old girl that doesn’t realize that’s the last time her daddy’s ever going to tell her he loves her. I throw open that front door and go running down the porch. He turns to look at me. Mom’s sitting in the car wondering what’s come over me. I wrap my arms back around him, bawling harder than I remember crying the night that he left this world for a much better one. I tell him that I don’t want him to go. He says he doesn’t want to go either, but that it’s time. He promises that everything is going to be okay, and he wipes away his baby girl’s tears. I let go. He gets in the car.
I wake up in a cold room to my cold reality. Cancer took him away that week, and no dream will change that fact, but I feel a bit better than I did the night before. An angel in Heaven sent me one last hug.