My dad died Thursday. It was a progression we were expecting. But no matter how much time you’re given to come to terms with dying, it’s never easy. I’m not sure it’s best for those who leave us suddenly as there is no time to say what needs to be said, let alone goodbye. Watching someone slowly deteriorate isn’t any better. The images of him I hold in my mind vacillate between my father on the couch watching his shows, and the husk of the man in the ICU struggling to grab a precious breathe, never to come to him again in this lifetime.
When it comes right down to the last few hours I’ve compared it to a freight train. It’s left the station, full speed ahead with only its destination in mind, oblivious to those it passes. What the final train station holds no one knows. Maybe that’s why they call it a terminal.
Grieving comes in waves with puffy eyes and tight cheeks stained with salty tears. I know with absolute certainty he is in a better place. That doesn’t lessen the facts. This plane now has a hole where his existence used to be. And like a missing tooth, we are the tongue searching for where it went and what it will be like to accept the new landscape without it.
I’m concerned about my mother and the 50th wedding anniversary she was looking forward to just seven months from now; or the big 7-0 party that would have happened in almost exactly three short months. The year of firsts will be difficult for everyone. What I worry about most is not remembering what I had, or what he did to get me where I am. I agonize that I will forget what his voice and laugh sounds like. And, in a strange way, even his sneezes. Yes, those scare most of all.
My pretty picture of crossing over gives me comfort. He steps out of his mortal shell and immediately sees those who love him. He is greeted by family and friends who welcome him to Somewhere Perfect. He’s younger, stronger, and able to do everything this body could no longer do. Every once in a while a new name will come to me, a peaceful idea that he’ll be busy visiting and catching up and will not see all the sorrow left behind as we try to glue ourselves back together and move on. Animals surprised me because I hadn’t thought of them at first. And so, he’s got an arsenal of love weaving around his legs now, too.
It’s odd for me to think about the two halves that made me are no longer whole. He’s now privy to all the answers of the mysterious beyond that no one here knows for sure. Is he allowed to follow us on our daily journeys? Protect us on our travels? I’d like to think so. I’d like nothing more than having that particularly understated angel watching over me.