by Bennett Conrad
"I have good news and bad news, which do you want to hear first?" "The good news!" my sister and I exclaimed.
"Well, Donna, Jeff, David, Rob, Jamie and Grandma are all coming for a long visit."
"Great" we replied.
"Don't get worked up because the bad news will bring you down. Dad's cancer is getting a little overwhelming, so Dr. Kossman took him his off chemotherapy."
"You're not saying what I think you're saying, are you?"
"Yes, and it's very sad."
Mom stopped talking and began to cry. So did Olivia and I.
"First Libby, then Grandpa, and now Dad!" I yelled in outrage.
"I know, it really sucks," whimpered mom.
"Why now? It's almost Christmas and then his 50th birthday." I croaked.
"Bennett, we'll be able to see him before he's gone."
"Yes, at the hospice center."
Two days later... he was still as a statute, but he was clinging onto life. Grandma, David and two of my aunts sat around his hospital bed trading stories about Dad and saying quiet prayers. David, my uncle, held my dad's cold hands for about 5 whole hours. Then the worst, the cruelest, maddening part of the day came, we had to leave. I stood up, walked over to Dad's bed and whispered in his ear, "I love you." Suddenly, Dad sat up and opened his eyes; he looked grand, like cancer hadn't laid one poisonous gnarled little finger on his great life. He took my hand, looked me in the eye and said, "I love you too." Then he slipped back into unconsciousness. I was the last person to ever speak with him.
We got into our car and slowly drove away; devastated. And that was the last time I ever saw my father. Philip Taylor Berry Conrad died on November 15th a year ago today. I will always remember him as a cunning and loving father, a blindingly fast and strong athlete, and one of cancers bravest, fiercest, and most determined competitors.