If I could...
"So, when are you gonna give me a grandson?" my dad asked at my wedding reception. Everyone laughed. I rolled my eyes. I had no plans to have babies any time soon. I was still in graduate school; I had a career to begin. I had a husband to grow with before we added babies into the mix. I thought five years would be good.
August, a mere two years later, God and my husband agreed it was time. My dad was more excited than everyone.
I made plans to visit him during my Christmas break, but I cancelled a lunch date with him at his office to visit with my great aunt who was 92. I assumed I would have far fewer opportunities to visit with her than him.
One should never assume.
But I did surprise him that evening at his apartment. I hid when we saw him walking towards the apartment building. Minutes later, he walked in with a palpable heaviness of spirit and said, "She didn't come," to my stepmother. It broke my heart. I jumped out, "surprise," I screeched.
I know he was happy in the moment. He loved rubbing my little belly. But he had wanted to show me off to his colleagues.
I didn't know.
Four months later, two days before my son was born, my dad died. I was on bed rest from two weeks after I saw him at Christmas, and though he had been ill, I didn't know how seriously ill.
I was the only one who didn't. Indeed, when my husband visited him a month prior to his death, my dad, who had always been overweight, weighed some 95 pounds. He knew.
Two days before my son was born, my mom called and spoke to my husband. He left the apartment on some imagined errand to call her from a pay phone (I found out later) at which point she told him my dad had passed. They didn't want to upset me into labor, so he cried before he came home. Two days later, I gave birth and in the euphoric moments following, the doctor said, "By the way, your mom and husband didn't know how to tell you, but your dad died two days ago."
If I were to rewrite history, I still wouldn't have a baby earlier as much as I wish my dad could have held him just once.
That is not mt greatest regret.
Rather, I would meet him at his job that Christmas holiday and happily let him lead me around the office to meet his colleagues...the same ones who four months later rented a bus so they could all attend his funeral...where my husband represented us both while I, preparing to leave the hospital, cradled my newborn son, and wept.