Just minutes away before the clock struck twelve; I sat down at my desk with a picture of Dad and I in the palm of my hands, counting down to October 6th, 2010. It’s been almost five years since he passed away, and yet it felt as if he was gone yesterday. No words could describe how much I regretted that very day when I could have gone back and just be there with him during his last hours. I’ve missed him so much; I should have gone back.
I was working (and still am) as an Assistant Editor for Posh Publishing when my brother, Nate called me almost every two hours on my cell on October 4th, informing me about Dad’s condition. He was battling with lung cancer and Nate told me that could go any second with his immune system getting worse every minute. I told Mr. Gregg, my Chief Editor about it and he gave me a half day leave to think about it. So I left the office earlier than usual.
I called my best friend slash coworker at Posh Publishing, Eloïse about it as soon as I reached my apartment. She reminded me about the meeting the next day that we were about to have with Natasha Nutley, my high school nemesis turned famous actress since I was charged with editing her tell-all autobiography. I was really hoping that my work on Natasha’s well-received memoir would earn myself that well deserved promotion as an Associate Editor. I was in a serious dilemma.
The next day, I went to work very early since I couldn’t sleep the night before. I thought about my options; coming to work as usual until the meeting was over or hopped on to the earliest flight to Virginia Beach that morning itself. It shouldn’t have been a tough decision to make, since I grew up with the understanding that family comes first, but my mind got distracted when Nate called me, saying that Dad was getting better, so I assured him I’d be back as soon as possible. I chose to attend the meeting. That was the first mistake I’d made.
The meeting went really well until Nate called so suddenly that I had to reject his call and set my phone on silent. I couldn’t afford to miss every detail Mr. Gregg was explaining to us during the meeting and I really wanted to please him as much as I could. The meeting was one of the most important meetings we’ve had since the interview with Kimora Lee-Simmons about her life in the ‘fab land’. Plus, I wanted the position as Posh Publishing’s Associate Editor badly.
I didn’t realize that my father’s dying moment was important until after I’ve read Nate’s text message, saying, “We’re bringing Dad home now. Dr. Hilton said not to have high hopes.” Immediately I remembered that I’d forgotten to book a flight, and that all flights were fully booked until the next day. That was my second mistake. I panicked a little, but still managed to put myself back together, enough to explain to Mr. Gregg and get a three-day-leave.
I left the office around five, went to my apartment and packed the first things my hand touched; toothbrush, skinny jeans, my favorite sleeveless eyelet-lace ribbon dress that hadn’t been to the cleaners in days, and everything else and left my apartment in a hurry. At that moment when I started the ignition of my car, I thought, if I am on a plane to Virginia now, I would be there in half an hour. That could have saved me six hours of driving.
I called Nate and told him that I was on my way. Six hours and a half of driving back to Virginia was the most dreadful moment I have ever lived through by far. I had countless questions on my mind; so many that I almost gave fate a chance to take over my driving. What am I going to say when I get to meet Dad? What if I’m too late? How does Dad look like since the last time I saw him, about nine months ago? Will Dad recognize me if I told him I’d came back for him?
It turned out that I was too late. He died two hours before I reached my family’s place at exactly midnight, October 6th. Dad was already in his best tux, lying on his bed since neither Nate nor Mom expected Dad to be gone so soon. So did me. I couldn’t help myself but to take his hand and told him how sorry I was not being there for him when he needed me. I cried and wailed so loud that Mom came from behind me and consoled me. She told me that it was okay, but I knew in my heart it wasn’t.
The sound of the cuckoo clock on my wall indicating the midnight of October 6th, 2010 woke me up from reality and it made my realized that I’ve been crying silently. I wiped the tears away with my hand and reminded myself that October 5th, 2005 was the day I will never forget, the day I made silly mistakes, the day I failed to see my father and stay by his deathbed as he breathed his last breath. It was the day I regretted most. Always.