Emma's whole night was thrown off course the second she answered the phone. The euphoric feeling from being with Darren drained completely out of her. Her father wasn't going to make it. The phone slipped out of her hands and she fell to the floor in a heap of tears, her mother still crying on the other end of the line. What was she going to do. Without thinking she grabbed her car keys and made her way as fast as she could to her father.
Emma could hardly believe she was driving to say goodbye to her father. She couldn't believe he wouldn't be here much longer. She knew it was selfish to think, but she wasn't ready to lose him. She couldn't bear to be without him. It was 1:30 a.m. when she reached the hospital he was admitted into. The tears just continuously going down her face. As she rushed to the entrance a security guard met her.
"Ma'am, I'm sorry but you will have to come back in the morning," he tried to move Emma back towards the doors, but she wouldn't budge. "Only emergencies allowed this late."
"This is an emergency. My father-" Choking on her tears as the guard stepped aside. "My father might not make it to the morning." Slowly taking in her, surely ragged, appearance, the guard took her to get her a visitor pass. Emma slowly made her way to her father's room. She stood outside for what felt like a year before a nurse asked if she knew where she was going. As she nodded she opened the door and couldn't stop the fresh flow of tears.
Her mother had a chair pulled close to her father's hospital bed, sleeping holding his hand. The sight of her father lying there, all hooked up to machines, broke her heart. As if he sensed her in the room, her father met her eyes. He held out his unoccupied hand for her which she gladly took. He patted her hand and rubbed her head as Emma sat next to him an cried.
"Its going to be ok love." He said as he tried soothe her. How could he even say that. He was dying.
"No, its not," Emma replied as she wiped snot and tears away. "I'm so sorry i left Daddy. I'm so sorry i lost so much time with you. I'm not ready Daddy." Her father tilted her chin up so she would meet his eyes. All she saw was love.
"There is absolutely nothing you need to be sorry for. If anyone is sorry, its me Emma. I love you so much. I am so proud of you and the young woman you have become." He held her hand and gave it a squeeze. What was she going to do without him. Her father meant everything to her.
"I can't lose you. I'm not ready to lose you." Emma no longer could hold anything in the tears mixed with snot flowed freely and she didn't care.
"Oh love. Life will continue when I am gone," he paused and wiped some of her tears away. "And your life is going to be magnificent with or without me. I promise. I hate that you came all this way, put your life on hold for this." As he looked down Emma cried harder. Of course she put it all on hold. She would cross the world for her father.
"No, Daddy I didn't put anything on hold I am exactly where I want and need to be. Next to you." She squeezed his hand and he kissed her forehead.
"So, let's talk since you did come all this way. How has it been being back home?" Emma couldn't believe he was making small talk, this could very well be their chance at any small talk, so Emma indulged him.
"Weird, but good. I saw Riley. We sat for a while and talked about everything." Emma smiled a small smile as she thought of her former best friend.
"Have you seen Darren? He still thinks of you. Comes by the house everyday and asks after you." It was beyond funny he asked about Darren, while they dated her father couldn't stand him. Emma chuckled.
"I thought you hated him, and hated us being together." Her father smirked at this.
"Yes while you were teenagers. Of course. Nobody will ever be good enough for my little girl. But he's grown into a fine young man. His business is great and it helped a little bit he sneaks me my favorite cigars." Emma just wanted to record the sound of laughter. She wished she could record this conversation, just do she could hear his voice on demand.
"I did see him. I just, I don't know Daddy. I love him, but I don't trust him" Emma sighed and buried her face in her hands.
"He loves you, you know. I can see it. I can hear it in his voice when he says your name. You can't keep harboring these bad feelings inside anymore. He was a kid, you were a kid, and now you're not. Maybe just maybe honey, its time to forgive him. Let yourself be happy. Come back home. Raise a family, and enjoy life and everything it has to offer you." Emma would sincerely miss these reality checks from her father. He always knew just what to say to make everything click. He was right about everything.
"But Daddy, I worked so hard to get where I am in my life. I like my job, I like where I live. You saw my apartment its beautiful. And I make great money, I don't need a man." Shaking his head, he reached again for Emma's hand which she readily took.
"You have worked very hard and I am more proud than words could ever explain. You are and always will be the light of my life. That is exactly why I am telling you this," he swipped more tears off her face. "You will never truly be happy in the life you have made love. Your heart will always ache. I know you like the back of my hand here love," he tapped his hand for emphasis. "You were meant to be everything you are running from. You will make a fantastic mother, and im truly sorry i may not get to see it." Now the tears were welling up in his eyes.
"I'm not running Daddy. I just couldn't bear to see him everyday. Not after he took my heart and broke it." Her father nodded slowly.
"So let him fix it. Let him show you the life you could have. The happiness you deserve to have in your life." Their talk was cut short by a nurse coming to check on her fathers vitals. All the while, Emma couldn't get his words out of her head. She knew he was right. She would never really be happy in the city. All she ever wanted was to raise her own family in her small home town and marry Darren.
"He needs his rest now ma'am," Emma glanced at her father who was sleeping soundly already. "The couch there extends into a bed, I'll be right back with pillows and covers." Emma fixed up her couch bed and lay there thinking of how just last week everything was normal. Her father wasn't here in this hospital bed and Darren had finally become a distant thought. Now her father had God only knew how long and Darren was every other thought that crossed her brain. How quickly indeed life can change.