This pandemic has definitely been a struggle for me. To be honest, the last few years have thrown obstacles (and opportunities) my way that I wasn’t prepared for. What I’ve learned with my dad’s passing and with everything that’s come my way since then, is that you can’t take life for granted. Being present is something I’ve really been able to focus on… fully enjoying the moments that I am in.

With that being said, I’m circling back to my dad and a memory I’d love to share with my connections. To give you a background, my dad was in the ICU for 90 days and passed away on April 30, 2019. The hospital was an hour away from where I lived, and at this time my mom had broken her elbow and couldn’t drive, so I would have to drive 40 minutes to her house to pick her up, then another hour to the hospital. My mom and I would sometimes spend more than 8 hours a day in his room. It wasn’t easy.

This one particular memory that really sticks out in my mind is this one evening when I went alone to visit my dad in the hospital, I stopped by his room and I remember feeling so tired and not really wanting to be there. And I don’t mean that I didn’t want to see my dad, I was just exhausted from all that had been going on. Between the driving, the stress, the not knowing, etc.

I sat next to his bedside after I combed his hair, which I always enjoyed combing and washing his hair for him, and we watched Andy Griffith together. After an episode, I told him I was leaving and said goodbye. I was ready to go. I gave him a hug and kiss. As I was walking down the stairs after I left his room, I kept thinking about how exhausted he must be and how scared and alone he felt.

Once I got to my car, I decided to turn around and go back. When he saw me, he smiled, which I didn’t see much of those days, and we watched another episode of Andy Griffith together. I never regret going back into his room and spending that extra 30 minutes with him. Even though I was exhausted, I made myself fully present in that very moment to be with him. Those extra minutes and his smile I’ll never have again, but I’ll always have in my memory.

During this pandemic, I’ve been fortunate enough to start meeting up with friends and family again, and having that presence has really given me more to be grateful for.