Today, 39 years ago, I remember packing your hair dryer in the blue Samsonite case. It was the same one you’d had since you were nineteen. You were now 35. You hadn’t been feeling well during Christmas, so Dad was preparing to take you to the hospital.
I was used to these regular visits to doctors – checkups for things of which I had no knowledge, save the fact that I knew your skin was getting harder and harder by the day. Your fingers cracked and bled, you had difficulty holding a fork to eat, and now, you were so physically exhausted, a wheelchair had been rented.
I didn’t know that the scleroderma you had also weakened your lungs and caused pneumonia.
I also didn’t know that, sitting there on the bed beside you as Dad packed a few things, this would be the last time I would ever be this close to you.
You died in the hospital five days later.
There are so many times I have rehearsed in my head the things I should have said to you. The things I should have asked of you. How I wanted us to have a”secret sign” that would let me know it was you, paying me a visit on each day I graduated. When I was recovering from the hysterectomy. When I turned 50 a few weeks ago.
But I was eleven. I had no idea those things would be so important down the road. I had no idea I would outlive you.
It never gets easier each year. I just learn to deal with it the best I can.
And I still sit, wait, and look for signs. Just like I think you did