As I try to fall asleep tonight, I realize that tomorrow brings our goodbye, though, again, it may not be THE goodbye. Luckily, I have spent three more days with my father than I thought I would (and had three more dinners, enough to watch my father enjoy his food and say “mmm” after almost every bite) and they were truly good ones. I realize my good fortune to have had this time with my dad who is still, through all of the illness and trauma, the same person I know. He is not a dying man, though he is, and he has taught me how to keep going…and going and going and going… Who knew that he was the Energizer Bunny?

Dad, I am so glad you helped to create me and bring me into this world. Thank you for everything you have ever done for me, everything that you have ever taught me, for the amazing luxuries you have made available to me (including going to college without having to take a loan), for being there for me and with me through my entire “career” since I was born. Nobody’s perfect, and shit has happened, and things between us were not always easy nor pleasant, but as I told you today, I am proud of the person I am and have you to thank for much of that. I know you might be pissed to find out that I’ve been posting on Facebook about my feelings regarding your illness, as you are such a private person, but I think it would be okay with you if you understood that it has helped me process our final goodbye.

To all those of you who have taken this journey before me, I thank you with all my heart for guiding me, for telling me to get my ass down to see my dad when I was afraid to, to take photos or laugh with him or call him whenever I felt like it, to hold his hand or kiss his cheek, to leave nothing unsaid and to love him with everything I have. Sharing my travels through this life-changing experience “out loud” has been so helpful to me, so thanks, my dear friends, for being there with me. As dad said to his friend today, “I’m back from the dead.” We truly thought that he was coming home from the hospital on Tuesday to die (he even said that when he called on Sunday saying he “didn’t think it would be long.”) Who knew he was coming home to start his seventh life?

And so I wish for you, Dad, to be alive for months and months, but not to suffer when the time comes. At least now I know you know how very much I love you. So we’re good. See you in the morning.

I woke up today and have a few more things to express:

Dad, you are TRULY incredible. I’ve been here all day and it’s like you are the same guy I know and love, only you’re in a hospital bed in your office instead of sitting on the couch! I love that you’re emailing on your iPhone right now and that we’ve had some good laughs and the beginnings of some nice talks and you ate lunch and asked for more. Yes, that’s right — this is a time for joy in having this opportunity, not tears (although I’ve let a few of those go in front of you, which, remarkably you said was okay). This thing called death and dying is quite a journey…

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Nicole is a portrait photographer living and working on Martha's Vineyard for the last 22 years. She is currently working on a novel.

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Nicole Friedler Brisson

Nicole Friedler Brisson

Nicole is a portrait photographer living and working on Martha's Vineyard for the last 22 years. She is currently working on a novel.

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