Feb 2, 2016 · 2 minute read

By: Colleen Valles

Everything can change in the blink of an eye.

We’ve all heard the saying, but we don’t really understand it until it’s driven home with an unexpected event.

As I learned recently, that blink of an eye can be just about a month.

Someone very close to me lost his dad after a very short illness. He wasn’t feeling well, entered the hospital for a few weeks, and was finally allowed to go home, where he succumbed just a couple days later.

His father was his hero. Even in adulthood, he aspired to be the type of kind, caring, responsible, loving and selfless person his dad was.

I met his dad once, and he reminded me of my dad: Quiet, from similar backgrounds, of the same era. They both put their families first, without ever complaining.

To the last, his dad sought to take care of his mom, even when he no longer had any strength and she was taking care of him.

“Make sure you take the car in,” he told is son. “It’s under warranty.”

“Make sure to activate the debit card.”

The list continued, and his son, more like his father than he knows, did all he was asked without complaint. He was happy to be able to give his dad some peace of mind in his waning days, as the illness wracked his body.

His dad and mom live a state away, and that he was able to be there with his dad at the last was a comfort, I think. But even when they knew his time was short, even when it was no longer a matter of months, but of weeks, and then of days and finally of hours, the passing still came as a shock.

He called me to tell me, and I knew before he said it. You always do. His voice was broken by pain. He was exhausted from the work of caring for the dying, of expecting death, and from grief. He couldn’t talk, and no words I could say would ever be enough. We hung up, and I cried for him and for his family, for the loss of a hero, and for the hole blasted open in his heart.

I thought about my dad, also battling sickness, and I thought about my mom, who could not bear to lose him. I thought about my daughter, and how devastating the loss of a parent is to a child.

Because in the end, that’s all we are: 10-year-old kids who need our Mamas and our Daddies to make it through this life, to show us how. When a parent’s light goes out, so does our beacon.

As the weeks pass, it has gotten easier, but it will always be a little bit hard.

And so I’m going to hold him closer, hug my parents a little bit tighter and squeeze my daughter a little bit longer. I’ll tell my brothers how much they mean to me, and I’ll spend a little more time with them all. Concentrate on them more, and take them for granted less.

Because even if you know how much time you have, you’re never ready.


Colleen Valles
I'm Colleen, a writer, mother, knitter, pet mama and tiny house enthusiast who truly believes that everybody should slow down and simplify to make room for the things that are most important in their lives. I'm on a journey to do just that, to be able to spend more time with family and friends, riding my bike and working in the garden. Sign up to get awesome content right in your inbox, or follow me on social media.