And then-

And then my father was diagnosed and everything in my life was chaos.
And it was complicated.
And I held his hand and walked him to his end.
And I held her hand too and took care of all I could.
And I worked in hospital rooms and hallways.
And I worked in cars driving to and from.
And I set meetings up wondering, am I going to make it to this one?
And I answered calls at 3am.
And I ran to emergency rooms.
And they called all of the time because they were so scared.
And I learned so much about things I never wanted to know about.
And I tried.
And then, I cried and cried and cried.

And then, doctors started asking me if I had a medical degree.
And then I had to explain that I have no idea what is going on, but I have learned too much and am trying to keep up, for them.
And then, I had to turn around and explain it.
And then, we had to keep him whole and hopeful.
And we had to keep him fighting but also realizing that, this blessed sip of life, it is not forever.
And we had to talk to her much more honestly, but she still didn't want to believe.
And we had to make decisions and calls that we couldn't get through without catching our breath.
And then the doctor called me and asked me if we were ready.
And then, I cried and cried and cried.

And then, it was over.
And I realized that 13 months is a lifetime and too short of a time all at the same time.
And I realized how much they cared for each other - at the very end, their love and obligation, and care and heartache - that was all that was left on the table.
And I remembered family, and how much we all show up for one another.
How family came in groups and really really surrounded us with love.
And then, I cried and cried and cried.

And then, she started calling her hard days, dark days.
Because at every turn, we saw him -
in his house, every brick, every tile, every cabinet, every single inch of that house we saw him.
in his cars, in how clean and organized and pristine they were, we saw him.
in pictures, in ones he kept of his littles tucked into corners of visers and frames all over his office, and in ones of him, in ones that pop up on all of our googles, we saw him.
in stories, memories, laughter, tears, anger, and complicated feelings, we saw him.
in his grandkids, in their grit, in their curls, in their love of soccer, in their effortless charisma, in their stubbornness, we saw him.
We saw him everywhere and every day and in every way.
She called those days, the days he was at every turn, her dark days.
And then, I cried and cried and cried.

And then, we kept waking up and going forward.
And we kept on.
And we all kept trying.
And slowly, she started to smile.
And even more slowly, she stopped crying all day every day.
But when she's with him, when she visits him at his grave, it's like she's a new bride in mourning.
But she made it through so many first holidays without him.
And we joked about all he would have complained about at my Thanksgiving dinner.
And that night, for the first time, he visited her in her dreams.
And she hosted Christmas Eve, while tears fell down our faces.
And she lost her breath while opening presents that meant a lot to her.
And she hugged her grandkids and kept saying how much she missed Nonno.
And then, I cried and cried and cried.

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