I was holding his hand but talking only to her. Somewhere deep inside I knew who he was and that he wouldn’t speak, but his grip was strong. I tried to look at him but I couldn’t focus on the figure before me.
Then I remembered and began to weep, my own silent sob waking me. The tears, hot and fresh, were real but his hand was imagined, though my palm still felt a warm impression, as if he’d really been there.
I closed my eyes, laid my head on my damp pillow, and tried to fall to back to sleep.
It’s not the first time he’s visited in my dreams, nor I expect, will it be the last. It’s a rare appearance but if these are the only moments I can still spend with him, I’ll have to take it them as they are.
I love you too Pop, come see me anytime.
I have had every intention of writing here over the last few days but I just haven’t been able to get the words down. You see, Sunday was the first anniversary of my father’s passing. It just really sucks to write about so I’ve been avoiding this space. Of course, there’s no way to avoid actually thinking. I can’t shut off my brain as easily as I can my computer.
It is easy enough not to talk about it though. Most people don’t really want to discuss death and dying. It’s too messy, too hurtful. It hits too close to the heart, so we gloss over it. I’m fine, I’m fine, we all say, rather than speak the truth, that a piece of you is missing, gone forever. We’ve all experienced it, haven’t we? So why the silence? It’s because hearing about someone else’s pain makes us think of our own. A grandparent or parent lost, or some other dearly loved one. Avoid. Avoid. Mortality bites.
I believe would all rather think of death in generic terms. Sad events happening in far off places are easier to cry over than cancer in the house. I can bawl at a sappy scene in a movie but real life hospital rooms and funeral parlors just make me numb. I can only assume I’m not alone in doing that since no one actually speaks of such things.
Well, at this moment I’d like to speak of my father but it’s easier to write it here than to say any of it aloud. Who was he? A father of seven, he was Pop to us. A husband of 50 years, yes, they made it to 50 last August, with three-ish months to spare. Grandfather of 17, soon to be 18, and with them Pop became Pepere. Catholic, always and forever. Engineer, artist extraordinaire, fixer of all things. He and flawed and kind and wonderful. I say all of this because these words describe him, but yet he was so much more than a few nouns and adjectives. He was the sum of years of 77 years of life, and love, and light.
I can’t look at a sunset and not imagine him painting it. I can’t pick up the phone and not yearn to call him. I can’t go to their house without glancing at his chair, expecting to see him reading, or well, snoring there. I can’t hold a broken electrical anything and not laugh at how he would have stashed it away for parts. I can’t help but for wish we’d had more time with him, for myself, and for my son. I can’t stand it, no, I hate it that he’s dead. Dammit.
I hope you don’t think I’m crazy or depressed. (Well maybe a little crazy but not so much certifiably.) Sometimes grief just looks like this. It ebbs and it flows like the tides, and it’s not a bad thing to let it loose once in awhile.
Now, if you’ve made it this far, you could do me a favor; don’t tell me how sorry you are. I know you’re sorry. You can’t read this kind of a brain dump and not feel some sadness. Instead, I’d rather you tell me a little something about someone you’ve loved, and and miss, and hardly ever talk about. Even though it hurts. Writing it down helps, I swear.
In return, I’ll show you one of my father’s paintings, one of my favorites:
and one of my recent photos:
Sunsets. It’s a family thing.
Filed Under family, life Tagged death, inner workings of my brain, life
I was at my parent’s house, wearing (as I now know) the slipperiest socks on the planet, and because I was hurrying, I slid on the top step fell as hard as I possibly could. Landing, of course, on my ass. (If you know me you know this is not a first.)
It wasn’t really funny for that split second it was happening, you know that moment when your life flashes before your eyes and you’re sure you’re going to die? In this case when it was the ceiling flashing before my eyes, and the certainty that I was going to break something. Or yes quite possibly die. Or both. Obviously I’m writing this so I wasn’t actually dead. Once the shock passed and I knew I was still alive, well, then it was funny.
One minute I was walking and the next I was sitting on a step with my butt on fire and the breath knocked out of me. I heard my mother freaking out. She was in the next room on the phone with one of my brothers, and probably freaked him out too. I think they both thought I was dead. You know, since lack of oxygen = no talking = must be dead. I couldn’t talk so I started laughing hysterically.
Unlike my mother, my dear husband and darling son, who know I am the klutziest person on the planet, didn’t show the slightest bit of surprise.
I reassured my mom I was fine and just needed to sit there for a moment. That moment came and went, and the fire in my butt became an inferno and I couldn’t sit any longer. I couldn’t stand so crawled up the freaking stairs, creeped like a snake into the living room, and lay down on the floor. Laughing. Hysterically. Because really sometimes you have to laugh at yourself. Or you’ll cry.
I begged my husband togo get me an ice pack, and stick it in the back pocket of my jeans. That right pocket was exactly where I had landed. Two inches more towards the butt crack and I would have been in the hospital with a broken tailbone that night, probably in the room next to my father.
Let me tell you right now, I have never had a bruise as big as that one was. Two inches tall and about 8 inches across. It was a perfect painting of the edge of edge of that step, in vivid purple and yellow. Oh, and the lump? Was like a double butt. One that I couldn’t sit on for almost a week.
This was on Saturday night, two days after Thanksgiving.
You may or may not have noticed that I didn’t write about Thanksgiving this year. I didn’t because, well, we didn’t really have one, and frankly, I wasn’t feeling particularly thankful. In fact, every time I saw a cheerful blog post, or holidayish tweet, or sappy Facebook message, or really anything remotely happy, I just wanted to smash something. I did all of my holiday shopping, what little there was, online so I wouldn’t have to talk to chipper freaking salespeople.
We found out in October that my father’s lymphoma had spread to his bone marrow and his lungs. He spent most of the Fall trying a different chemo in hopes that it would knock it back, again. It was a last resort and although we weren’t sure yet, it didn’t seem to be working. Talking about it, much less writing about it, or anything, was the last thing I wanted to do.
I’d been trying for weeks to get to Maine to see him, but my kid and I had both been sick since before Halloween with one cold after another. Visiting someone with a compromised immune system when you have a sniffle, cough, or anything other sign of illness is out of the question. We made do with lots of phone calls, until finally we were well and able to go on the day after Thanksgiving to spend the weekend.
We drove up on that snowy Friday morning, to find that Pop was at the hospital for the day having yet more blood transfusions and platelets. Since my mother was heading back after lunch there I grabbed my crocheting and went with her. I sat and chatted with him for hours, hours I’d hoped to have with him at home, but that was not to be.
Later that afternoon he had a bad reaction to the transfusions, just minutes after we had gotten him back to the house. We didn’t know it, but his lungs were filling with fluid.
I spent most of the next day at the hospital again. In the morning I sat in his room, chatting with my mother, and with Pop when he was awake. He dozed some but was talking more than I expected, and we even had a few chuckles over some joke about ice cream. I can’t even remember what it was, I was just happy to have a laugh with him. All too soon he needed a real rest so while he slept I quietly wandered the deserted halls of the hospital. If you’ve ever been in a hospital on a holiday weekend you know that few but the sickest are there.
In the early afternoon, one of my sisters arrived and we stayed in the waiting room together, both of our crochet hooks flashing. When it was clear he would sleep the rest of the day, I went back to my parent’s house. I was tired, the kind of tired that gets into your brain and shuts you down. Mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted; and yet not as exhausted as he was, not even close.
That was the last day I had a conversation with my father. It was the last time I heard him laugh, and the last time he looked at me. But I didn’t know it then. How do you know something is the last until it’s already over?
That was the night I fell down the stairs.
This morning I listened to the most beautiful rendition of Taps I have ever heard.
I was at my father’s funeral.
I wish I could put into words how I feel right now. I have such mixed emotions I wouldn’t even know where to start. All of the events of the last week have left me utterly exhausted, weary down to my bones.
I’ve cried, I’ve accepted, I’ve made my peace, I’ve gotten angry, but I did have my moment to say goodbye, and I’m grateful for that. Listening to that short sweet bit of music today summed up everything for me, it was an amazing moment and I will never forget how that felt.
On a side note, I have to thank my family and friends for their love and support. Those who came to see me, called me, send me texts, emails, and facebook messages, they got me through this weekend. Then there were those who came to the wake yesterday and the funeral today, and those who sent flowers when they couldn’t, well, I just wouldn’t have made it through the day without them. I am truly blessed to have so many dear people in my life, really, I have the best friends in the world.
Dudes. My blog is depressing. Maybe that’s why I don’t come here so often anymore.
I seem to go to a lot of funerals. Another one of my Aunts died this week, another of my father’s siblings. And another funeral to attend this coming Tuesday.
I’ve seen so many people do this great “best of 2009” round up posts so to cheer myself up I thought I would take a look at my archives and see what I could link to as my “best of.” Except all I can find are “not the worst of 2009” posts.
My one shining moment of true hilarity was cause I was doped up on pain meds. Honestly, I haven’t written anything humorous since them because I just can’t compete with myself. Ooooo, I last saw my funny at the hospital!! Maybe it’s at the lost and found! ~sigh~
See? My best posts are the pathetic dregs of the blogosphere.
Bring back the funny.
ps. Rest in peace Aunt Lee.
Filed Under blogging Tagged blerg, blogging, blogging about blogging, death, life
I didn’t mean to be gone so long. It just sort of happened. Sometimes life just happens and you don’t have time to write about it.
Then sometimes death happens and you don’t know how to write about it.
One of my uncles died on Friday. It wasn’t really unexpected, and in many ways it wasn’t as sad as I thought it would be. Not to say there wasn’t sadness or tears, but there was also that sense of relief when pain is at an end.
The wake and funeral gave me an opportunity to hug cousins that I haven’t seen in more years than I care to count. Those hugs mattered. To them and to me.
It also gave me the opportunity to have a little extra bonding time with my sisters and parents on the long drive to Northern Maine. Oy. Laughter is pretty healing you know, and we’re pretty good at it.
This whole weekend was a reminder how important family is and I’m incredibly fortunate to have so much family in my life.
Who do you wish you could hug one more time?
I wish I could hug my Memere. She passed away 28 years ago yesterday. I was nine, and I just didn’t get to hug her enough. If you still have a grandparent in your life, could you go hug’em for me?
My aunt passed away this morning after a very long and valiant battle with cancer. Even though it was expected, it’s not easy to believe it has actually happened. I can only think about my cousins, and how they’ve lost their mom, and their children have lost their grandmother. That’s the pain that takes my breath away.
I probably won’t be around much for the next few days. I have to bail out on a few obligations I had this weekend, and I’m sorry for that.