The note on my rack
from the Division Leading Chief
read “See me ASAP. Chief P.”
I’d been out, away from the ship
for fresh air and distance.
For once, concern as he told me
that an American Red Cross message
had come in with notification
that you were in the hospital.
I flew from San Diego
to Honolulu in a fog.
In the Intensive Care Unit room
all the tubes piercing you pierced me,
all the machines and electronics stunned me.
Your labored breaths left me gasping.
Dad, I’m so sorry I couldn’t keep silent.
I’ll never regret being there.
I’ll regret forever my insistence
on speaking when you wanted silence.
I remember how you called me
“an idiot” on your deathbed
(to shut me up?) – it’s OK –
you were right, again.
I remember how I didn’t tell you
“I love you” nearly enough times
those last two days. I remember
when you were moved to the top floor,
the “terminal ward” and how my sisters
waited for word in their hotel room
near the airport. Your breathing
quieted and faded until it stopped.
The pain you had in breathing
all those years was finally over.
Our family friend Stuart and I ate
and talked deep into the night,
telling favorite stories of you
and celebrating your life.
I remember my hotel room
newly cheerless and bleak.
Waikiki is no tourist
destination for death.
I woke up drained,
raw from grief,
I will remember you until I die.
Thank you for everything –
I am so grateful.
I miss you Dad. I love you.
Andrew Shattuck McBride
April 20, 2012