Devin Dearing Preston: NYC writer, playwright, and storyteller

Dearest dad,

July 29, 2011

I recently was curious if you remember saying good-bye.

When last we saw each other, I had just moved to New York. I was waiting tables in a brewery in Times Square. I was just another actor waiting for the industry to take notice and start casting me in everything. It was only a matter of time.

You probably don’t know this, but I left your death-bed in order to make a call back for the Lion and Winter. It was a non-union contract being performed in middle of no-where Vermont and I wanted it so bad. I figured you’d bounce back. I’d get the part. And you’d come and see me in my first professional show. You didn’t bounce back.

I remember very clearly the day I was scheduled to return home. I had followed the doctor’s advise and consented to dialysis, to encourage your kidney’s to process some of the poisons that were bloating your body and blurring your mind. Do you remember this? We came into the ICU for the visitation half hour that morning, thrilled. You were more lucid. You had moved your bowls and urinated. Gilli , your mom, your sister Ramonna and I almost burst out in song.

“Well, look at that Flynt!” Your sister exclaimed. “You went number two. I bet you feel better!” We all laughed.

I had done the right thing! My gamble had paid off. Those colostomybags full of shit were disgusting, but all the proof we needed that you would be out of that bed and back on a bar stool soon enough. We were hugging and smiling. Planning. Moving forward. I felt great about getting back to my life in NYC. I’d been a good daughter. Done my part. I helped save your life. It was now time to get back to mine.

Then the doctor pulled me aside. In the hallway outside of the room filled with poop jokes and laughter, this man seamed concerned. Suddenly I was too. All I could hear was the thumping of my own heart as he rattled off one medical term after another in rapid succession. Cirrhosis. Hepatitis. Cardiac arrest. Coma. Fatal. The truth and gravity of his news hidden behind hospital jargon and a calm even tone. Basically, he was telling me there was no hope of you ever recovering. Your liver was dead. So were your kidney’s. The strain would cause your heart to stop. You would go into a coma. And die.

So, the opposite of what we thought was about to happen.

I heard him. Chose to keep my wits about me. Took a moment, then calmly signed your do not resuscitate form. Done.

The doctor had more bad news to break and I had a plane to catch. You had finally consented to make me your power of attorney a day earlier, once you were confident it didn’t mean your 22-year-old daughter had to pay your hospital bill. She did however have to make the choice to let you go peacefully. I hoped it was what you wanted. Peacefully I was a concept I could get behind. The letting you go was going to be the hard part.

I went back into the room. “Dad?” I looked for a sign of recognition on your face. I think you knew it was me. You smiled real big, anyway.

“Well, I’m leavin dad.” I announced as I approached the bed. I hadn’t given much thought to how I was going to say good-bye. I just knew I had to. I got real close. I kissed your cheek and squeezed your puffy yellow hand, one last time. Looked you square in the eyes and said

“I love you.”

Remember that?

“Well, I love you too, Dev. Be good.” You said to me. I quietly walked out of the hospital room with the rest of our family. Our spirits dampened. Visitation was over, as was our fight. You had made your bed. Gilli and Ramonna stayed to watch you lie in it.  I got on a plane. Show business was calling.

I don’t think you knew it was our last good-bye. I’m sorry. How do you tell your father that he is going to die? I hoped you would be proud that I didn’t make a big fuss. No tears. No speeches. No grotesque displays of raw emotions. Just a “see you later” of sorts. I left knowing, but not believing just yet, that that was the last time I would ever see you.


Categories: Letters I Will Never Send

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