I forgot about one of the worse nightmares I had....that unfortunately came true.
In 1998 I was on top of life. I had just gotten out of a terrible relationship, was feeling quite good and free and I'd been hired by Feast Dinner Theatres and was doing a show in Summerside at the Brother's two all summer.
Near the end of the summer, a few weeks before September, I had this dream...
In slow motion....I was walking down Euston Street in Charlottetown towards Victoria Park. As Euston turned into Brighton I started to pass Prince Edward Home. Something made me walk up to the front of the building, though I did not know why. ( At this time in my life I had never actually set foot inside this place ). In slow motion...I walked up the steps, through the front door...Nurses were staring at me in pity...I walked to the end of the front foyer. In slow motion...I turned right to go down the hallway...passed room, upon room, of people on their deathbeds. In slow motion I saw someone at the end of the hallway...the last door on the left...walk out of their door...an old man...grey hair...short. In slow motion....as I got closer...I recognized him. It was my father. But not my father as I knew him in real life. His hair was greyer, his skin more pale and old, and he was almost 8 inches shorter. He did not speak to me, he just looked at me distantly, like he was not really there. He turned around and started walking towards his room and then in a flash the scene shifted to him in his room, the last door on the left, in his bed, a bead of blood dripping out of his left nostril...dead.
I woke up feeling horrible. It was such a vivid dream. I woke up as if it had happened and I was drained and sad and full of grief. Then I realized. It was true. I went downstairs to the rest of my family, and as I entered the room they all looked at the same way the nurses did. I couldn't believe he was dead. I had barely seen him all summer. What was the last thing I said to him. It was horrible...
I awoke....for real this time.
I had a dream within a dream. I awoke in my apartment in Summerside, not in Charlottetown with my family. The feeling however did not leave me. I immediately went downstairs and called Charlottetown. Not wanting to say "I just had a horrible dream that Dad died!" I made small talk and then inconsequentially asked "How's Dad?". He was fine.
Until a few weeks later.
After my second last show at the Brother's Two I was cleaning tables when my sister Amanda walked into the room! I had barely seen her all summer and I was shocked but excited to see her in Summerside! "Hey!!", I said excitedly. Then I realized she was looking at me exactly like the nurses and my family was in my dream. I immediately said "Is Dad OK?" She didn't speak, she just shook her head 'No' and then said "Everyone's outside in the van".
I walked with her and got in the van in the parking lot where my family, minus my father, told me that Dad was diagnosed with Cancer today.
A number of weeks later, my father was transferred from Queen Elizabeth Hospital to Palliative Care...in the Prince Edward Home....where his room was "Go through the front door, turn right at the end of the foyer...and then it's the last door on the left"
By the time he got to Palliative Care, he was on a constant diet of morphine for the pain making him incredibly distant, usually unable to speak or eat, his hair was greyer, his skin more pale, and the cancer was torturing him so much that his stance made it so that he appeared shorter.
On November 8th, we got a call that my father was entering the final stages of dying.
On November 9th, he couldn't walk on his own. He didn't speak. I spent some time alone with him and said all the things I ever wanted to say to him. Told him how proud I was to be his son. How what a great father he was. Apologized for any hurt I may have caused in the past and told him many times that I loved him. I didn't know if I was ever going to have the chance to say it again.
On November 11th, I walked into Palliative Care and my father was back. He was awake...smiling...eating...talking...he even kissed my mother on the lips, in a sweet, sincere manner ( something he never did...well...in front of us anyway!! He always teased and joked with her ).
It was a wonderful day....we all talked, listened to his stories of how he "woke up" that day realizing that he a had a family that loved him, so rather than park his bones in his bed and die he "woke up". It was beautiful.
On November 13th I went to visit him. I had to go on a UPEI Wind Symphony tour the next day to Halifax, so I asked one of the nurses, if she thought I should go. She told me he was doing well and it shouldn't be a problem. I asked my father his opinion and he told me to go. I told Dr. Simon that I would be able to go on the trip, who reluctantly agreed to let me go. ( as much as I was totally saddened by my father's failing health I was even more in denial about it all ). I visited Dad again later that night, with my mother, my aunt Dianne and my cousin Dawn. It was a nice quiet visit. I said I had to go pack for tomorrow's trip. Asked my Dad if he was sure if I should go away for the weekend. He looked at me and nodded yes. I got up to leave and in a rare moment between father and son I walked over to him, kissed his forehead, told him I loved him and that I'd see him soon.
It was the last time I saw him alive.
After the dress rehearsal for that night's concert on November 14th, I was in Halifax at my, then, girlfriends house having stir fry on white rice when the phone rang.
I later wrote these words about it all.
I heard my mother cry, when my father died
It’s a day I’ll never know.
I was miles away, ready to play,
The day I missed the show.
So I cried and cried, I found a ride,
Home was where I’d go.
Home where my father was no more
I thought I’d see him once more.
So I closed my eyes, I saw him smile,
As I kissed his head and said I’d see you again.
I came through the door, he’d be there I swore,
I hoped it was all a dream.
But there was an emptyness in this, a shrunken nest,
As tears from my heart streamed.
I heard my mother’s cry, I thought I would die,
and I would see my father again.