It’s now been 17 days since my dad has been bed ridden. The flurry of family has waned and now it’s mostly my mom and I taking turns to rush to my dad when ever we hear a rustle through the baby monitor, that my cousin let us borrow or the frantic tapping of the desk bell that one of my aunties bought from office depot.
It pains me to see my dad so frail, so weak, so listless. To see each passing day, his eyes loose a little more light. To see each passing day, loosing the ability to do the simple things we take for granted like being able to feed yourself, get up to go to the bathroom, or even sit up in bed. Everything is a struggle for him. There is no space left for privacy, for shame, for self-sufficiency. I used to joke with friends that I have never changed a diaper, well, I never expected my first diaper change to be my dad’s. Everything is a struggle for him, for my mom, for me.
I’ve been trying to talk to my dad, to tell him about things that are happening in my life, of good things yet to come for me. He doesn’t want to listen. I’ve been trying to reminisce of times when I was a little girl and shower time how we’d squeak our butts together, when I was innocent enough to take delight in silly bath time ways. He doesn’t want to reminisce. I’ve been asking my dad about how he feels, if he feels scared or anxious or impatient with this waiting for the unknown. He doesn’t want to talk.
I’ve been asking him about his dreams. He finally peeps something about dreaming of when he was a little boy. How in plantation days in Hawaii, when he lived as a poor plantation boy on a farm in Kahala, what is now the ritziest neighborhoods of Honolulu, how he remembers eating a tuna salad sandwich on white bread with a 7oz bottle of coke. It wasn’t clear if this was a dream or a memory. He says, what a treat that was when he was a boy. I ask if he sees his mom or siblings that have passed in his dreams. No, he says. I think, he hasn’t yet had visitors? If he isn’t having visitors from the world beyond ours, he isn’t ready to go yet.
Lighting a candle for the dying
I begin the ritual of lighting a candle for the dying at home for my dad. I light a candle to hold vigil for my dying dad, to support him in his transition and to welcome his visitors who will help him along to the next world. Some have suggested that I write his name at the bottom of the candle vessel and to write a prayer or an offering. I will remember to do this tonight.
Who is that person with the black hair?
But this morning as I sit with him feeding him freshly spooned papaya, cold right out of the fridge. He looks off down the hallway and asks, who’s that over there with the black hair? I look down the hall, I don’t see anyone. My mom freaks out and says, there’s no one there. I ask my dad… ask that person to come closer so you can see them. Ask them who they are. He doesn’t. So, indeed he is getting visitors. They are coming. I must remember to light the candles for them tonight. To pray to them to help take my dad along on his journey. To pray to them to not make this time of suffering not too long. He doesn’t deserve to suffer. And i just can’t handle this any more.