Monday, March 21, 2011

The loss of a parent. This resonated with me.

"It is not just about the desire of the living to resuscitate the dead but about the ways in which the dead drag us along into their shadowy realm because we cannot let them go. So we follow them into the Underworld, descending, descending, until one day we turn and make our way back."

An excerpt appears in The New Yorker Magazine
Story's End - Writing a Mother's Death
by Meaghan O'Rourke

Damn that's good writing. I couldn't have said it better myself. A woman writes about her mother's death from Cancer.

Reading this brought me back to the days of driving my dad to doctor's appointments, when he was diagnosed with Bladder Cancer, radiation treatments, chemo, days spent in the hospital by his bedside...all of those memories came bubbling up to the surface.

It all happened so fast. He was dead a year after being diagnosed with Cancer. I'm still digesting and going over every detail in my mind, as if I could have averted what happened in the end - my dad dying.

There are days I am driving home and I get this pang in my chest that reminds me that I haven't seen my dad in awhile and that I should go see him. Pay him a visit. It happens all in a split nanosecond. That's when it hits me that I can't see my dad because he's dead.

It's been 8 months since my dad died. I still find myself in tears just about everyday at random moments of the day. There are times when I feel like he's with me. Times I'm driving by myself with the radio on and I swear it feels like he's sitting next to me in the passenger seat (just like all those times I drove him out to the VA Hospital). Or the time I was teaching my 5 year old daughter how to ride a bike. I felt his presence with us and was so sad he couldn't be there alive to see it. My daughter was in tears when she rode by me and said, "I miss Grandpa. I wish he didn't die." She felt it too.

That metaphor of following the dead into the Underworld and descending and descending is so dead on. My loved one died. He was my father. The first hurt was when his mind was going, the second when his physical body died. It's unthinkable to let him go. I'm the keeper of his memories. The last one who can prove he existed and tell you how much he meant to me. I can't abandon him. So I keep following him, while looking back the way I came. How much further before I have to turn back?

And the pain continues.

I miss my dad's voice, I miss him saying my name and his laughter and his jokes, and his warm, bear hugs. I even miss the feel of the stubble on his cheeks. I miss that he's not here to see his granddaughter grow (something that made him happy - He loved being a Grandpa). I read a blog post from a number of years back when my dad told me that he hoped he would live long enough for my daughter (his granddaughter) to remember him. And I know he hung on for as long as he did for us kids (my brother & I).

I'll follow you for as long as I can Dad, yet I know at some point I'll have to turn and make my way back. It doesn't mean I love you any less. And it will pain me to do so. The one comfort I have is knowing I will see you again when it's my time. We will hold hands like we always did and I'll have no reason to be afraid.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

1776-1976 U.S. "BiCentennial" Quarter

I've been finding a lot of 1976 bicentennial quarters lately. I hadn't seen one in years and now less than a year after my dad's death I've come across several of them. And each one holds a memory of my dad.

"Hold onto those. One day they'll be worth a lot of money," my dad would tell me when I was a kid. So I did. Every single one I came across I wouldn't spend it. I'd save it and put it with my collection.

(Coin collecting was a hobby we both enjoyed and would sit for hours with a magnifying glass sorting through coins together, filling up our blue books.)

So now as a 37 year old woman, my dad dead and buried, in less than a week I've come across 3 of these rare quarters that I hadn't seen in ages - and each time I thought of my dad and tears came to my eyes. I stored them away. Just like the memories of him that I keep close to my heart.

It's been 8 months since my dad died and I'm still heartbroken. I miss him. Little signs that trigger memories of him make me happy & hurt so bad. I still find myself with tears streaming down my face thinking about my dad.

I see this quarter. I smile. I think of my dad. I cry because I miss him. And I continue to cry because it's such a big loss. In more ways than I could ever imagine when he was living. And I cry even harder because I still love him very much as my life continues without him.

I love you dad. And those 1976 quarters will always remind me of you. Thank you for that memory.