John’s dad died earlier this month.
I wrote this in a few minutes that I had to myself in the in between of knowing his death was imminent, but before he had passed away.
May 11, 2018 | 7:16pm
Grief is such a strange thing.
With this loss, we had a chance to dance around it a little while, without really knowing it was coming.
“Was he sick for very long?” people have asked.
Kind of? But not really.
(And what difference does that really make when you lose someone you love and the thought of seeing them again on this earth is gone?)
I wish we’d been better about video calls.
I wish that I’d said how much his words at Christmas time meant to me.
She called and said, “the doctors found something today that is fatal and expect this to be his last day, or perhaps tomorrow.”
She said something else, giving me permission to talk to him for likely the last time, on speaker phone, and I didn’t know if he could truly hear me.
I said all the pleasant, positive things I’d been coached to say through the prior 10 days or so of interacting around his hospital stay, while he was sedated, and so on.
So, I said the positive things. And talked about how much we love him. Which is so true.
… about how he always makes us laugh, and how Justice says Papa’s laugh is one of his favorite things in the world. And how we keep talking about our Christmas visit and how precious that time together was.
But I didn’t say:
“Papa, I have so many precious memories of you ingrained into my being. And I’m going to carry them with me forever. And I’m not ready for you to go.” I didn’t say that the challenges we faced with each other shaped me and caused me to grow. I didn’t say, “You are part of who I am today.” Or “You were hard for me in many ways, but such a treasure, too.”
I didn’t say that I’ll never forget the moment you walked in to speak to me before my wedding ceremony and you gasped and said something wonderful, and how I started to burst into tears and had to turn away – because I didn’t want to mess up my makeup AGAIN, by crying, AGAIN. And the hundreds of times I have wished I’d immediately hugged you instead, and ruined my makeup. It would have been so worth it. But I’m so grateful for the moment we laughed together, then. And for the love that you came to have for me. That once I married your son – no matter how much you might not have wanted me before – you called me “daughter in love” ever since. You said it with pride and a smile that made me feel strange at first, because it didn’t fit. But then, it became this precious gift for me to treasure… that it became a sense of my belonging within your family. There are so many things about your life that I treasure, and I’ve only gotten to glimpse you these last ten years.
The phone call ended pretty abruptly, as it needed to in the urgency of all the imminent things. I am incredibly grateful that my children were playing perfectly outside, and John was at work, and I could have my own space for a moment of sadness which could be all my own. That my sobs could come out unconcerned for making space for anyone else’s grief… the tears could flow, and I could sit and begin to process the weight of what was to come.
And I did.
And then I wrote this.
Because I needed to get out the things I wanted to say and couldn’t.
Because the sobs were coming so.
And because I hadn’t really expected this. Because you’d started breathing on your own, and your heart was beating on its own, and they said you lit up when you heard about your new grand baby. And I thought maybe you’d take us by surprise and might actually come back to us, and we might have another Christmas, or another day by the lake, or a hug, or a hand squeeze, or a laugh. That you might get to snuggle our new baby when they come. Write me another letter, send me another text message. Read your grandkids another story.
And then I re-packed the car and we came as fast as we could.
But you were already gone.
And it was time for the process of grief to truly begin.