Happy 8th birthday, pretty girl.
I have been trying to keep better track of things around here, and still my camera is sitting on my printer. Lonely ole camera. I certainly didn’t get much over the past few weeks. With Dad and hopefully moving sometime soon, it has been overwhelmingly crazy.
With the sun out more often, and the need to clear my head, I have a feeling it will be in my hand quite a bit from here on out.
We are dealing. It hasn’t been easy because when something big happens normally, Dad is the one we ask for advice. This time, we are doing it for him. I have been trying to the strong, but yesterday, the day we laid him to rest, was a rough one for me. I cried and didn’t care who saw. I left a part of my heart at that cemetery.
I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to have to miss my dad.
And I do not like the house without him. I will be glad when we move and every single thing won’t remind me of him. I’m so sad when I see the emptiness that he left here for us. Sometimes I feel like I could just overflow with this ache that I have when I want to talk to him about something. And all I can think is “No, not my dad.”
I have heard people talk about losing a parent, but until you experience it, you have no idea. I never did. It’s a whole different feeling that I never knew existed. An achey numbness that at some point will probably wear off and leave me feeling thankful for the relationship we had, thankful for the two months when we knew “it” was coming. But right now, it’s something I can’t shake.
I always thought I was the tough one, but now I’m not so sure. It’s nothing you are ever prepared for.
I remember the faded-in-the-summer-sun red Coleman cooler,
old and worn,
holding the smell of sour,
salt and pepper shakers, just in case,
a fork tucked wrapped inside napkins
and tucked between pamphlets of content
I cannot recall.
Dad would ramble in the house after work,
dusty and tired from spending the day staring
through the dirt-speckled glass of his Caterpillar blade,
yellow and rusty,
with Herrmann’s printed along its side.
Mom would have dinner waiting,
something made from scratch,
hot and flavorful,
and never appreciated enough.
I remember the entire house smelling
of a construction site during those evenings,
with roused dirt brought in on his boots
skimming through our nostrils while we watched tv,
lying on the cool hardwood floor.
Wheel of Fortune, wrestling, Urkel.
We would tire and saunter
off to our twin beds
in front of open windows,
hoping for some kind of breeze,
and that cooler would sit in the kitchen
next to the wallpapered wall patiently,
ready to be picked up and packed full
the next morning, to start all over again.
The night before, around 12:30 am, he had had an “episode” where he got worked up, his heart rate spiked, he was sweating and freaking out. He cried. I called my sister and brothers, and we all were here clear up until he passed last night, along with the nieces and nephews and grandbabies. We sort of kept a vigil over him, making sure he wasn’t in any pain or anxiety, and my mom noticed his heart rate was dropping pretty rapidly. We all gathered around his bed, and as my sister-in-law finished The Lord’s Prayer, he passed away. And the sun came out from behind the clouds, the first time all day. It was surreal. It was something that you might not believe unless you had been here.
There was something bigger than us here last night.
He is at peace. He is in no more pain. And he made it to June, just like he said he would.
I love you Dad. May you rest in peace.
June is going to be a rough month; I already know that. With so many things going on, it is going to be a time for many tears and smiles and laughs and hugs. I have to face the fact that my dad is not going to make it to July. And if he does, by some odd miracle, it is going to be the most exhausting and emotionally draining thing we have ever been through. It already is. He is in pain. Horrible pain that makes me even want to cry. He was always the strong one among us, never admitting when something hurts or aches. And now he moans because he is in constant pain. Every breath, every movement. The cancer has reduced this larger-than-life man to a weak and tired man, who just wants it to be over. It’s the most awful thing I have ever seen. More than once he has has said “Please just let me die.”
And there is aboslutely nothing we can do about it. We can’t make it go faster to save him from the suffering. We can’t hurry the cancer along or force it to make him stop breathing. We can only try to make it comfortable and as painless as possible, which is not an easy thing to do. The harder it gets, the faster I wish it would come. That sounds awful, but truly, he is suffering. I know that. He knows that. My mom and brothers and sister know that. If there was a way for him to just go to sleep tonight, forever, peacefully, I think we all would hold a small bit of relief in our hearts knowing that he is not in any more pain.
It will be sad. It will be hard. And people deal with this every day. They lose loved ones and somehow power on through the pain. So that is what we will do.
That is what Dad wants us to do.