It was one hour past midnight, late enough that even the college students who lived in the apartment building across the street had changed their Halloween costumes for pajamas, turned off their lights and fallen into a sugar-induced sleep. I lay in bed, remembering the Halloweens of my youth when Dad and I had gone trick-or-treating together. He had protected me from the goblins, witches and ghosts that had roamed the streets of our neighborhood, and I had shared with him some of the candy I accumulated.
Now, Dad lay in a hospital bed in his bedroom; I listened to his breathing come through the monitor. I must have dozed off because, at 2 a.m. on November 1, I awakened with a jolt. At first I thought a leftover Halloween skeleton had taken control of Dad’s monitor, but then I realized that the rattling sounds I heard were coming from Dad. I rushed into his room, lowered the bars on his hospital bed, and crawled in beside him.
Dad’s skin felt cold, so I wrapped his quilt–and my arms–around him. I held him close, whispering to him that I had always loved him and would love him forever and always. The more I talked, the calmer his breathing became. I know he heard me, felt me, and smelled me, even though he did not show any sign of recognition or awareness.
At 2:30 in the morning, Dad took his final breath. He looked peaceful, as if he had fallen into a deep sleep. The moon, shining through the slats of the room’s blind, bathed him in its soft light.
It was 2:30 in the morning, and the night had taken my beloved dad from me. I did not move; I had nowhere to go. I lay next to my dad, letting the haunting darkness of the night consume me.