I wonder how many confessions the almost-dead hear on their deathbeds.

As my dad lay placid on the hospital bed, with me holding his bony hand, I blurted out a confession that I’d rehearsed in my mind for years. It came out fast and hushed. My eyes vigilant on the door, anticipating my sister’s return from the bathroom.

I looked at his face to see if he heard, if he registered my blistering disclosure. But not a stir or a twitch of consciousness was visible.

Would he have cared if I had allowed him to retort while he was alive? Would he have remembered this insignificant detail of my life? Why did this teenage lie matter to me so much? Did I rob us both of an opportunity to become closer?

The thing is, my dad had slippery standards.

He wanted us to be open and honest with him, yet he would weaponize these tellings against us when we did. Over the years, my sister leaned towards keeping her life close to her chest, whereas I veered in the other direction, hoping that my divulgences would earn me his love and respect. Au contraire however...as it didn’t have the effect I had hoped.

Only in hindsight, of course, can we see the trajectory of our miscalculations.