I tried keeping it together yesterday as I managed to leave the house. I feel my period may be coming on and needing to pick up medicine from the pharmacy, I went to the grocery store to treat myself to some sad snacks.
I would like to pay tribute to my father as much and as best that I can. Seeing how he was a fish to water with wine in his prime days, I headed straight to the wine aisle.
I don’t know if it was the overwhelm of being out in public, the sadness of his recent death, or wanting to pick his favorite wine and realizing they don’t have it- his second and third picks were there as backups just incase- but something came over me and I began weeping between the Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots. I really just wanted to be in a ball holding the Louis M. Martini I couldn’t face to splurge on, on the floor but, I decided against that. This time.
I made my way over to the candy isle, yet again, crying because I couldn’t find those damn jujubes he annoyingly loved. This whole time wearing sunglasses as if the shade would keep anyone from peering at my bloodshot crying eyes.
Today I woke, still exhausted. Dreading the inevitable of going to settle my dads arrangements for his predestined departure. My sisters and I sat with the funeral-man, David, not really sure of his official title, but he helped us with everything that goes into the decision making of what happens next, answering our questions, giving it to us straight. He was great.
After everything was settled and done, he took us to the crematory right down the street. My sisters had said everything they wanted to, but there was just something unsettled within me that just wanted one more moment with him.
We stood there viewing his dead body, nobody moving, saying anything, or touching him. I started examining him, as my curious self would, stroking his beard hair. Those pokes were always my favorite. I knew in my heart of hearts, if I didn’t do what I needed to close this chapter right then, the guilt would hang over me and I’d be lying in bed late at night regretting my non-decisions.
We’re all crying at this point and I took out my phone, wanting to read the letter I wrote to him, the first part of this series, here. My sisters weeping in silence next to me, my hand on his chest, then touching his face, and moving to his hands that were placed on his lower belly. I ended what I needed to say and put my head on his chest and just stayed there sobbing into him.
I would hope that he was near us today, although I’m unsure how to be completely sure of that spiritual realm- something I’ll actively have to tap into in the coming days, months, and years of my life.
I spoke to him like he was there with us, asking him to watch over us, be with us to guide us, help us in times of need, giving us strength and wisdom, and hoping that he got to see his mom when he crossed over, because that’s all he ever really wanted towards his ending. Something he’d bring up routinely, asking to see her. I think that’s when we started to realize he was coming near that point of no return.
I was the last one in the room with him. Still trying to grasp the facts, wrap my head about this notion of, ‘if I turn my back now, this is the last time you will ever see his face, the last time you will get the chance to say your peace, anything that is on your mind, whatever is heavy on your heart.”
Lying my head on his chest, in a way giving him one last big hug even if it wasn’t reciprocated. Everytime I went to get up, I couldn’t bring myself to leave, and I’d place my head back down. Talking to him again, stroking his face, his eyebrows, edges of his ears, his spiky chin and neck, to his upper chest and collar bones.
The vast difference between how his body used to be, how I remember it: sort of built and thick skinned, big, like tall and stoic, just always had a presence even though for an Italian man in America, he was pretty average if not on the shorter side. The comparison was just maddening to me.
I feel a little less empty than the first day when the news hit, but it’s not like life gets any easier because your problems aren’t immediate in your mind- but we all know they’re there, just lying dormant.
More lost, feeling out of place, where do I belong, where do I go, what moves are next in the cycle. I feel myself wandering about a lot. Just aimlessly moving, kind of lurking in one corner, then viewing out the window as if my answers are all out there and will flock to me.
I don’t feel helpless, which is actually quite a relief, as I thought I would definitely fall down the side of some cliff and hang there willingly until I couldn’t hold on anymore. Part of me feels that could still happen, but I feel that keeping my mind occupied, thus far, is good for me.
If I stand here and stew within the pit of my mind, there’s a possibility I will fall into the darkness. It doesn’t help that I haven’t worked since Thursday, and only work two days a week right now, so there’s ample time for depression and despair to creep in. Fingers crossed for the latter.
In a way there’ a sense of relief, of course so he doesn’t have to suffer anymore, but also-for the longest time, ever since this started, my nerves have been on end thinking daily about him. About his health, what I could do, how I could help, what if he got worse, what we are going to do in the end, etc., etc., all of the worries under the sun. They are now put to rest.
In a way tragedies bring upon certain positives, so they say. I want to say that there’s nothing positive from this, and although I feel like there are bare minimums, two things I’ve noticed thus far:
•I’ve been able to channel my emotions into action, just by simple beginning to write again. I used to journal all the time just for my sanity, to get my own thoughts out of my head, it helped immensely with many areas of my life and just overall ponderings.
•I feel like it’s brought my sisters and I closer. As weird as this time is, the one thing you should be able to rely on is family. For comfort during these hard times. I haven’t ever really gone to them in the past, always had my walls up and gave up giving them third, fourth, fifth, endless chances. In a way this is helping my healing too. Being around them recently, I haven’t had any walls up, just been embracing those ‘awkward’ moments, being vulnerable, staying open and keeping my heart available. It feels, good, for once.
As shitty as saying goodbye to a parent is, that’s not your whole family that’s gone, and I have to keep reminding myself that. That I’m not alone and I’m not the only one who’s in pain. That everyone handles death and painful situations differently. We may look fine on the outside, but we could be so fragile on the inside.
I’m slowly embracing the idea of community and family, trying to put myself out there rather than my usual shutting down and being alone.
I’m slowly embracing the discomfort of change and the unknown of the future, where I’m headed. But remaining positive and optimistic is what will keep me in the game and from drowning.
I think that’s all we really want in the end, is to stay afloat. Ultimately, the end goal is to learn to surf but you’ve got to learn to swim first.
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