“Why are you putting on lipstick?” my younger sister asked, not without a tiny hint of disdain.
A valid question and tone considering our dad just died and we were in St. Peter’s Funeral House waiting for his body to be embalmed.
“I already feel like shit,” I replied. “I don’t need to look like one.”
December 19, 2019. Thursday. 10:05am.
I declared daddy’s time of death. This, after watching the numbers on his pulse oximeter go on a steady decline.
5:35am. O2 saturation 87%. HR 102 bpm.
I knew I was gonna miss him. Even if it was just lying next to his dying body. I liked feeling his warmth and twining my fingers against his. Holding the hand that worked very hard to provide for his family. The same hand that generously gave to those who sought his help.
O2 saturation 84-85%. HR 100-101 bpm.
His breathing had gaps in between. But the effort to fight was still there. I thought about how daddy may have held on a bit longer until he was sure our tears had been spent. Because now that the moment of death was so near, my mom, sisters, and I huddled close together around him with a sense of calmness that he may have wanted as a sendoff.
O2 saturation 83%. HR 50 bpm.
6:01am and the sun was slowly waking up outside. Inside, my dad was slowly dying.
My dad was slowly dying to a brand new day.
I whispered for his soul to run towards the glory of the sunrise. To go embrace the light.
06:16am. O2 saturation 77%. HR 41 bpm.
Since then, I couldn’t get a reading anymore. His vitals hummed way below the threshold of the pulse oximeter’s factory settings. I relied on the good ol’ palpation against his carotid artery, faint as it was. His shallow breathing was few and far between. At times I thought he had breathed his last, only to see a flicker of chest movement occur.
In the interim, we said our final goodbyes.
Death brings you to your knees. Humbles you to a point where you look at the living walking smugly about as if they’re gonna live forever.
But life goes on. The best we can do is make the most out of every breath.