In the morning I will call my father up and we will laugh about how I thought he was dying. How I had a dream that he was lying in bed and unable to speak to me. That he did not wake up, not even for my daughter in her new red dress.
He will tell me that everyone’s time comes someday but that now is not the time. That first my daughter has to walk, holding his finger–that he has to take her to the playground, except he is worried because it is far away.
In the morning it will be okay. Because this is a nightmare. Isn’t this a nightmare? Isn’t it only in nightmares when life collapses in a few moments, when the ground falls away under your feet?
It is definitely the sort of thing I have experienced in nightmares, except that in nightmares I have always woken up and this time I haven’t. And in my nightmares I have never seen the inpatient oncology ward on the sixth floor with the signs saying “STOP: CONTACT ISOLATION” or the floor-cleaning Zamboni whining by. My mind is not able to create that level of detail.
In my nightmares there were no stretchy white sheets or stretchers, no long ride home behind the ambulette in a taxi. No clean-cut middle-aged Indian-American hospitalists who became doctors because Daddy told them to and it paid well–who are able to take their gloves off after today’s discharges to hospice, say “you did the right thing” to each patient, and go home.