I saw my dad last night.
We were all standing around waiting for a table and as I looked over towards the door in walked my dad. He was wearing his blue "work" pants, his blue jacket, one of his newsboy caps, and a sheepish grin like he knew he was late to the party.
I ran up to him and flung myself into his arms. He felt just like my dad. I stood on my tippy toes and rested my chin on his broad shoulder as he leaned down. He wrapped his arms around me and hugged me the same familiar hug. I could feel his cheek warm against mine, a bit of stubble prickling my face. I cried and cried and laughed and laughed. I didn't even care that everyone in the restaurant was watching.
"How are you doing this right now? How can we even see you?" I asked him.
"I just wanted to be here." he said with a smile.
I watched as he went through and hugged each of my siblings and my mom. He was exactly the dad I remembered before his body ever hinted at Alzheimer's. Smiling. Laughing. Larger than life. Loving. And there was a hint of something new too. A calmness. A peacefulness.
I drank it all in trying to memorize each detail. Each moment.
Dad stayed with us for quite a while and I could tell that when he said he had to go he didn't really want to leave the party. I was so grateful for the visit that I couldn't be sad. I had been waiting for a dream of my dad for almost three years and this was so much better. He was here with me. With all of us. I was just thankful I got to see him again.
He left the room but I noticed him lingering just outside the window looking in at us. I laughed and waved and he chuckled and waved back. We all ran outside to enjoy a few more moments with him.
I walked with him across a grassy area trying to eek out every minute with him that I could. I remember flooding him with silly questions. He laughed and tried to answer them all even as he was getting further and further away.
He was so far away now that I had to shout for him to hear me, "Dad! Did you see Todd's new motorcycle?" I asked, knowing he would be the one person to really appreciate the bike.
"I saw it!" dad said enthusiastically. And with that I knew he had been watching over me, over all of us, these last few years.
I awoke with the image of dad fading away.
It was the most comforting dream I've ever had.
A dream I have been waiting almost three years for.
A dream that really felt nothing like a dream.
Thank you, Dad. It was so amazing to see you. I hope you'll visit again. Even if it's only in my dreams.