Here’s the thing–this is not for the lighthearted. So, proceed with caution.
One time in a counseling session, I had a client tell me they were still grieving over their mother who had passed away a decade ago. At that point, it was my job to be understanding and normalize her feelings. So, I did. However the thought, “Geez 10 years seems like a long time” did cross my mind.
What I’ve learned is that everyone grieves differently, and that 10 years isn’t a long time at all. Especially now that I have actually experienced the death of a parent. My dad died six years ago. Although I’m learning to let go, It took me about 5 years before I truly began the process.
When I wake up on his anniversary, the memories of that day play like an old video reel. Snapshots. First, a picture of me walking outside with my mother and sister. Then, a flash of my father-in-laws face from the front door, signalling us to hurry inside. My dad only had moments left.
We rushed in and gathered around to watch him take his last breath.
We all held hands and said the Lord’s Prayer. Afterwards my in-laws had us leave the room. They washed my father’s dead body and graciously dressed him in his favorite clothing. We picked out his blue bandanna, polo shirt, and maroon vest. His beloved patchy jeans and Tevas. After he was dressed, we came back into the room for final goodbyes.
My dad’s skin was cold and yellow. His face gaunt. Honestly, sometimes its a creepy thought for me, because he didn’t look like my dad at all. His mouth hung open like an image straight out of a horror movie. Have you ever felt a dead body part? His hands were solid, stiff, and heavy. Really heavy. It’s a disturbing part of the memory, but also a very humanizing one too.
Death is life.
It took 5 of us to lift his body onto the stretcher that the funeral home brought. And then, I had to wave goodbye to my dad’s body–even though his soul had already left him. It was strange. Off he went to be cremated and back he came as ash.
When his body left, my siblings and I started making preparations. “Well, should we let people know? Whose going to get the obituary out?” Off we went to Facebook to create “posts” for updating family and friends.
What should I say?
RIP daddy. You mean the world to me.
Facebook never lets me forget. Short and sweet. But, boy did I have so many other things to say.
And then my brain skips. I see a snapshot of me standing outside in the middle of a thunderstorm. My heart pounding. I felt a surge of electricity running through my body, and it was hard to breathe. “Dad is this you? This is you now.”
It was as if he came to me in the form of energy. Thunderstorms were his favorite. My mother has a somewhat similar story of how he came to her, but that’s her story and version to tell.
Six years later I still have so many things left to say, but when I sit down to write them I cant seem to formulate anything except:
You mean the world to me.