How my dad is like a real-life Jack Pearson

"Don't stop. Don't ever stop trying to make me see myself the way you see me," Kate said to Jack on yesterday's episode of This is Us.

That line...that was when I lost it. And we hadn't even gotten to the tragic ending of the episode yet. But that was the line that made me start to cry because that describes my dad.

My dad is in the hospital this week. He had open heart surgery on Monday morning to replace his aortic valve. The last couple days have been torture on him. Yet, even though he is in so much pain, to almost every nurse who comes in to check on him, he brags about me. About my job, about my writing, about where I live. You would think I was a movie star or something with the way he talks about me.

It's always been like that. My dad has always believed in me, even when I don't believe in myself. He is my rock but, with him in the hospital and seeing him hooked up to all those machines, it's been an anxious week, to say the least.

I spent the last three days in the hospital with him, and I just returned home so I can go back to work tomorrow. Right now, I'm alone for the first time in about a week. I'm trying to keep myself calm and not have a panic attack. So, right now, I'm doing my most successful therapy. Writing about it.

Last night I learned something. When my own dad is in the hospital, I probably shouldn't watch a show about a dad who died. But...well...what can we do about it now?

It's kind of embarrassing how I reacted to a television show after all the real-life crap that's been going on in my life. But, I think I've been trying to suppress how scared I've really been this week and that episode was the straw that broke the camel's back. And, for the first time, I actually cried about it all.

Okay, so I'm not sure if this is a spoiler about last night's episode (but if you really don't want to know anything, then I suggest you stop reading now). The episode is titled "That'll be the Day." As in "That'll be the day that I die." As in, this is the episode about the day that the character Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) dies.

And, it reminded me of the fragility of life. And, of course, it reminded me of my own dad.

One Twitter user, @iloveparis, wrote this about Jack and his final day: "Am I the only one who was so touched by Jack cleaning up the kitchen? Quietly, carefully, lovingly. Then he left Kevin a thoughtful note. Taking care of the gritty and tender details of family and life. Rebecca’s right: Jack was just about perfect."

Well, that's my dad. Just about perfect.

He's the guy who does the laundry, vacuums, and helps my mom clean the dishes every single day. He's the guy who's the hardest worker I have ever met -  working many jobs he didn't like so that he could support and give his three children a great life.

And my dad adores my mom. Just like Jack adores Rebecca. Just like, how Miguel described them in episode 12, "Your mom and dad, they were one. There was no Jack, and there was no Rebecca. It was just Jack and Rebecca." For my parents, there's no Michael and there's no Marilyn. It's just Michael and Marilyn.

Monday night, after my dad's surgery, was the first time in more than 25 years that my parents slept apart. They're the couple that slow dances to John Denver songs in the middle of the dining room. The couple that says "I love you" multiple times a day, who kiss in the kitchen, who tell each other everything, and who's favorite story to tell people is about the day that they met.

My parents are the people that taught me that true love is possible, and that a real-life "Jack and Rebecca" exists.

But there is one thing that I'm so happy my dad doesn't have in common with Jack. The fact that I've gotten to have him in my life for 29 years so far. And the fact that he was diagnosed soon enough that his clogged valve didn't kill him — so, I will get to keep him for many years to come.

Just make sure to unplug your appliances before you go to sleep, Mom and Dad.

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