My brother came into Huntsville for dinner earlier this week. It just worked with a trip for work he was making and it was something my heart needed more than anything. To see the one person in the world who I know misses Dad as much as I do.
We spent some time talking about how we’re “dealing” with things. What times are the hardest, when it hits us, what annoys us the most about the way people react to our grieving, and what sympathies really pluck our heartstrings. We both feel like we’re looking at the world in a different way, but neither of us have figured out what changes that will bring to our lives.
When I got the call that Dad had died in hospice, I told them I could be there in four hours and to please leave him there so I could say Goodbye. I had already discussed this with my brother, that I’d want to say goodbye to Dad one last time. They said they’d keep him there, and to just get there as soon as I could.
It took me longer to get the family packed up than I thought it would and we hit horrid traffic leaving town. It ended up being almost five hours before I got there, and I started panicking that they would have to take the body before I could say goodbye. MrZ didn’t really think I’d want to be with him long once I got there, but I knew I would. He pulled into the hospice and I literally jumped out of the car and ran inside, terrified I was too late. Of course I wasn’t.
I guess there’s nothing that really prepares you for seeing the dead body of someone you love. The body without the soul. Or the spirit. Or the lifeforce. Whatever you want to call it. If it’s a person you knew for a long time alive and energetic, seeing their lifeless body is a shocking thing. But I’m so glad I did it. As I was telling my brother, it has been really helpful to have that starkly honest image in my head to remind me: Dad’s gone. Because there are many times where I feel like it’s still not real. I say the words, “Dad’s dead,” but the truth of that statement is off somewhere else. The words mean nothing when I say them because there’s still a part of me who sees him at the next holiday, or in his house, or hears him on the phone. But that picture – the picture of his soulless body in hospice. That picture is there like a flash of lightning to remind me of the painful truth: He is No More.
If there’s anything I’ve learned these last few weeks is that I need that reminder. I need that stark image in my mind to shake me back to the reality of life without my Dad. I wonder how I’d be coping if I didn’t have that image, and I’m fairly certain I’d be much deeper in denial. While it’s a painful image and one my Dad would have hated me having – I’m glad it’s there.
He’s gone. I’m still crying at weird moments (like during Chuck because it was the one show he watched) and my heart still hurts when I see his name scrolling through the contacts in my cell phone. (Why can’t I delete his name out of my contact list? WHY?) The night is the hardest. The kids keep me distracted during the day but once they’re in bed? And the house is quiet? I’m left alone. Looking at his furniture in my bedroom. His books on my bookshelves. I get angry because someone so healthy should get to live to see their great-grandchildren. I get jealous because other’s still have their Dads. I get sad because I miss him. Still. Always.
So, it was good to see my brother. To see the one person in the world who has the same hole in their heart as I do.