I was overwhelmed and anxious, nervous even. I'm deeply ashamed to say that I didn't catch everything he was saying... I was too busy struggling to not be swallowed by the weight of the moment. I was having a hard time concentrating with the high emotions and the finality of everything. I couldn't believe it, this was it. I had known this day was coming at some point, but knowing something is on the horizon and actually living it are two very different experiences. Sitting there in that hospital room just the two of us, my chair pulled up right next to his bed, holding hands (I think we were holding hands I just feel like there's no way we weren't. I actually can't remember anymore I wish I would have written this down sooner, but its still hard to think about. What I can remember clearly is the thinness and fragility of his skin on his hands and remember there being a huge purple bruise on his left hand), I thought he would tell me something to change or work on or to take care of my mom. And in the end he did give me advice. He told me, that he was really proud of me and to "Just keep being you." That was the last thing he said to me, our last moment alone while he was awake.
At the time, I felt slightly disappointed that it wasn't something epic, something to act on, some promise I could complete and fufill in a tangible way, something to accomplish to prove I had done right by my dad, fulfilled his wish. But now I realize it was the ultimate gift. The final release of questioning of acceptance, of whether or not if he was proud of me, proud to call me his daughter. He accepted and loved who I was, as I was, and wanted me continue to being that person. That I could honor his memory and I could fulfill his wish by living authentically as possible every day. It was the ultimate act of love for a questioning daughter, of being told I am enough by someone that I had always fiercely and deeply hoped had thought so, but was never sure. There were other parts of the conversation too. He told me how proud of me he was many times. I asked him to look for me, in the next life. That I would look for him too. He promised he would, I could tell he thought it was a stupid promise (my dad is famously and vehemently an atheist) but he still made it anyway.
And that was it.
I never got to thank him for that gift, for the peace that it brought me. His last act of love. I wish I would have realized at the time what he was giving me. But I do now. I love you Dad. I hope wherever you are is beautiful.