I held your hand. It was smaller than I remembered. Your skin was smooth and taut, but still warm. You turned your masked face towards me and your eyes fluttered open.
How’s the family? You asked. Good, I said, and took out a photo from the envelope I carried. I held it up. Eight-year old James is in his red uniform, kicking a soccer ball, his brown curls flopping in his face. And then I held up his school picture with his toothless grin and deer-in-the-headlight brown eyes. Around us, our family chattered as I shared slices of my life with you.
It had been too long since I saw you last – only keeping tabs on your health through my Dad. It had been too long since my last visit, since my last note, since my last call. Why? I wondered. Why did it take me so long? Why did my visit have to be at your hospital bed? I didn’t know it at the time, but in less than 24 hours you would leave this world.
You were a big man with a big heart. The symbolic patriarch of the extended Noto family. You read at my wedding with your wonderful, booming tone. Your voice was a finely tuned instrument for telling stories, pleading cases or lecturing more than one of us. You were persuasive, powerful and wise. I looked up to you – literally and figuratively. I know that I am not alone in saying that. Your advice, your humor, your laugh, your hugs, your grace. And then you closed your eyes.
Your vital signs reduced to blinking colored numbers on a screen. One tube fed you, while the other tube drained you. But you hadn’t eaten solid food in three days. How long can someone live without eating? I don’t know. The ICU nurse looked in on you and scribbled something on a chart. Would you get out of this place, I wondered? She didn’t know.
You touched my life in ways I never got a chance to tell you. I only had moment and I held your hand. Maybe that was enough.
Peace – Anthony C. Noto, Esq.