Nine years ago, I was flying from New York to Seattle on a red eye flight. It was my original departure flight, but only because there were no other flights that would get me home sooner. The night before, our group had finished covering the GGL AmeriCup Finals and we collapsed in a collective heap in the hotel room, recovering our scattered wits before heading out to find some food. It was then my mother called: I needed to get home immediately, because my dad was dying.
I don’t remember much about the trip to New York, any of the coverage, or the trip home. I do remember I had double, triple checked with my parents before I left – I knew my dad was in the hospital, but they insisted he was fine, I should take the trip, and I’d see them when I got home. As my dad was clearly invincible, I knew he would recover .. so I took their advice and went to New York for the first time ever. I had worked my ass off for that trip (it was an internal contest – those who covered the most AmeriCup games online in the weeks leading up to the finals would be sent, and I covered 5-7 games a week to ensure I’d get to go), I had never been to New York, and I was excited. I didn’t want to think about the possibility of my dad dying – who does? – so I went.
I remember sleeping fitfully on the plane ride home, almost sick with fear and lack of sleep. I awoke when our plane landed in DC, and I looked out onto the tarmac. I remember seeing many well-dressed black people in their Sunday best, and wondered how they could stand to wear so many clothes in the sticky late-summer heat. I have no recollection of the flight from DC to Seattle, deplaning and collecting my luggage, and pouring myself into the Mazda – Ed had driven down from Vancouver to pick me up at SeaTac, and then drove us back over the border and to the ferry. I have no idea how he got us through the border, as I was completely out of it – I vaguely remember handing over my passport, and then waking up again as we somehow managed to get a spot on the ferry (we were the last or second to last car allowed on – if we were a movie, it would have been a nail biter).
I’ve told the rest of the story many times – we got to my dad’s bedside just after ten that night, and he passed away as I held his hand – but what I haven’t shared is the guilt I still feel about going on that trip to New York. I was so worried about letting my team down, missing out on an event, ruining my chances to travel with iTG in the future, that I completely bailed. I don’t remember our last conversation – when I called to ask what I should do, I always spoke to my mom. I’ll always be grateful to the powers in the universe that got me to the hospital before he died, but I feel a lot of guilt about not being there for what turned out to be his last week on this astral plane. I try not to live a life full of regret, but this is one I definitely have. And it sucks.
I miss you, dad.