It’s been one week and since my dad died.
I am finally alone after being inundated with family and friends for the past week. Beside me, an orange tabby sleeps peacefully; my house is still, despite the three other people in it, each grasping a few hours of sleep before the incredibly early wake up to drive to my dad’s final resting place. Then it will be done, the life and death of a man I’ve known my whole life, yet, in some ways, I never really knew at all. Nothing left but picking up the pieces and pressing on with life, one day at a time.
I don’t begin to believe that this marks the end of my grief, or that even such a delineation exists. This is probably just the beginning. I will eventually feel compassion for a man who loved me, but not quite enough to stay. I will allow Intellectual Simone to convince Emotional Simone that there was nothing that I, or anyone else, could have done to save him, that he lost a battle with an illness as real and as devastating as it was unpredictable.
I’m not sure what I should be feeling right now. I don’t think there is any kind of rule book or manual that dictates feelings in these situations. I do know this: my overwhelming feeling is one of gratitude. I am full to bursting with appreciation for the army of family and friends who have descended en masse to cover my family with love and hope. These people are my lifeline, they are the reason that I’m still standing, one week later. They have done everything from bring food, to sit and listen, to cry with us, to pull weeds from our flowerbeds. They have been the surrogate fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters, overflowing with grace and kindness. They have been there in the still moments, the wee hours when the awful reality starts to kick in and nothing calms better than intertwined fingers and gentle strength. There aren’t enough modifiers to describe this kind of outpouring, and for that I could not be more thankful.
I keep hearing over and over how strong I am. I’ve been told that I am walking through this period of my life with grace and poise and that I am a rock. The selfish part of me wants to scream every time someone says that. I don’t feel strong. I don’t feel gracious. Poise is the farthest thing from my mind. I am tired and I’m worn and I feel as though my nerves are rubbed raw. I want to throw myself on the floor and dissolve into a full on temper-tantrum the likes of which most parents of toddlers have never seen. I want to snuggle up into the chest of someone stronger than me and let the world melt away. I want to be protected and cared for and held like a child. I want to ugly cry in an embarrassing way while someone tells me that I’m still beautiful.
I miss my dad. The pain is visceral and all-encompassing. It spreads through my chest in a heaviness I’m not sure will ever lift.
Until it does, I cling to the hope of a new day and the knowledge that God’s grace is enough.
I guess it’s just us now.