It’s been many days, a few weeks, since Dad died. I try not to focus on dates or count days so I don’t get hung up on how long it’s been. What I do know is that this is the longest I’ve gone without talking to him, hearing his voice. No off-the-cuff, unadulterated remarks. No clever responses. No discussing current events. No astute answers for all of my questions. No wise, kind, funny, gentle words. I find myself wanting to pick up the phone to share something with him but immediately give that thought a u-turn. I don’t want to fall all the way into the chasm in my mind where he doesn’t exist in living terms. I stop short and redirect.
I’ve had people ask me if it was a relief when he died. I thought I might feel that but I didn’t. Disintegration is the best word I can find. I never felt like anything I did for Dad was a burden. I wanted to do anything I could for him and make his life the best I could for as long as I could. I knew that what I did for him I “got” to do. I knew the day would come where I would no longer get to.
It’s weird being in my folks’ house without him. Walking through the dining room, coming around the colonnade to his chair to see his surprised and smiling face, announcing “Sarah’s here!” without fail, usually followed by “How’d you get in here?” only to find it empty. Void of his daily newspapers, the ones on his left were read and those on his right, yet to be thoroughly examined. No articles cut out with his Swiss Army pocket knife that I got him, waiting to be shared with me. His little radio he used to listen to local football games has been put on a shelf in the basement.
When people ask how Mom and me are doing, I tell them a vague truth. We’re sad, adjusting, grieving, trying to take care of business and trying to find our way. Dad had many things taken care of but there is still much to do. There was no funeral or services of any kind as was Dad’s wish. He didn’t want to take anyone’s time especially for something like dressing up and being sad. Our days rolled from his death right into days that are empty of him, no pomp and circumstance. There was only reading of cards which have now stopped arriving.
There is much to do these days, just different. It’s surreal how I can float in the abyss of an existence without Dad but then be bombarded with the glaring reality of things to take care of, manage, navigate for Mom, my brother and myself. I attempt to give whatever feelings I have space to exist and be acknowledged although the flood I expected has yet to visit me. I find things every day I’m grateful for and to laugh about but that doesn’t diminish the heaviness the envelopes me. Death is a part of life and I’m grateful I got to see him to the end instead of the other way around.