“He Left It There For The Better Part Of An Hour” Dax Shepard recounts the time his wife Kristen Bell paid a surprise visit to his dying father:
The next day I showed up to the hospital to find that he had taken a very sharp turn for the worse. It is not what I was expecting. I had let myself believe that the fun we had the day before was some kind of magic antidote. I half expected to see him eating a full breakfast when I walked in, but instead he was dazed and motionless. He could no longer sit up on his own, and talking was proving to be too much for him. So we sat quietly. I climbed in the bed with him and rubbed the little hairs on the back of his neck. I squeezed him. I’d never seen him so cute and little. He was a 250 pound baby. We spent most of the day that way.
At one point, and unbeknownst to both of us, my wife walked into the room. She had flown in from LA without any warning. It was a surprise. It was an amazing, incredible, perfectly timed surprise. She lifted her shirt up and he put his hand on her swollen stomach. He left it there for the better part of an hour. He was smiling from ear to ear, sitting contently, unable to put together a sentence, but still capable of connecting to the new family member we were creating. He wasn’t going to make it to the birth, but that didn’t get in the way of him meeting the new baby. It was an emotional and triumphant moment. One I will never forget. If I live to be a thousand, I will still be in debt to my wife for giving him that one last thrill.
Shepard’s well-written, feelings-punching post on his father’s last months is worth a read.