The last time I was here…

…was the first time I had been back in a while. Three days later, I packed a bag as fast as I ever have, kissed my family, and started the drive to PA. Two hours into my drive, my sister called to tell me that my dad had passed. I finished the drive and met my sister in the front lobby of the nursing facility. 

Sometimes when I close my eyes I can still see him, pale and breathless. Slackjawed. Sometimes I expect him to take a shuddered,  sharp-edged breath as his eyes flutter open and focus on me. Most times, though, he’s still. 

We are planning a trip to my home state next month. Dad was very specific about where he wanted his ashes scattered and we all wanted some time together as a family. Even my mom is planning to come. I’d been recently anxious about travelling and logistics–flights, rentals, lodging, baby friendly accommodations, meal planning, etc.–until both my sister and mom made separate comments to me that caused me to google “the realities of spreading ashes”. 

The part of me that likes to know things is so glad that I did. The other part of me?  Not so much. 

I have no earthly idea how we will carry out his plan. The plan he cooked up when he thought he would live forever. 

The last time he was there.