It is spring break, and I am glad. We are leaving on Tuesday to go and visit Momma for a few days before attending a church youth thing in a different town. We are trying to dig out from under well over a month of packing and unpacking. I told Sarah tonight that since I plan to USE the suitcase for our return trip to Louisiana, it might help for me to actually UNPACK it.
I have had so many people (and I am very grateful for the concern) ask how I am or how Momma is. The other day I sent Melanie and e-mail, and she suggested I share my thoughts as it might help someone else who is grieving. So, here they are.
I am holding up “fine.” That meaning that this death of a parent is not quite what I had imagined it would be–not that I spent lots of time imagining it, but we KNEW all of our lives that Daddy (as robust and active as he was) would probably die young due to the fact that he was walking around on an artificial leg.
I am sometimes amazed at what this IS like. Since I’ve been gone from home for so long, and since Daddy spent so much of the time I WAS home out gadding about with the ducks and deer and fish, my brain just feels like he is on an extended hunting trip–or that he’s at home with Momma while I am here in Texas. I am a person who thinks it is better to walk THROUGH pain than around it, since it tends to grow the more you ignore it. But when I try to wrap my brain around the fact that he is really, truly, physically gone, it’s too big a reality to comprehend.
I don’t know if it’s denial, or the peace of God, or the fact that I feel Daddy’s influence in my life so strongly, but right now, I feel the strength to get through the days much like I did before. I keep going over how we handled the last few weeks of his life, the choices we made, how we spent our time together, and I cannot think of a thing to do differently than we did. The steps that led us to that last day together were guided by God’s own hand to give us peace now. Of that I am confident.
As I write this, I feel the tears and pain creep in around the edges, so maybe I am in denial, or maybe the loss is so big–so huge–that, like I said, I can only handle it incrementally. I can only touch little pieces of it, digest those parts, and then back away for awhile until that little section becomes a part of my reality. As for the pain and loss my mother must feel, I cannot begin to fathom the loss of a spouse of 45 years.
That was most of the e-mail. . .what I didn’t write was that I keep having dreams about Daddy or his dad–my Grandaddy–our family. . .my brain is trying to process this in ways that I cannot in times when I cannot control my thoughts and steer it away from what has happened.
One of the odder of the dreams was that Momma had died instead of Daddy but she was in a spot where we could call her on the phone. Daddy came to my (childhood) bedroom and said he wanted to talk to Momma. I said, “Well, let’s call her.” And so we did. She answered the phone and when I asked how she was she said, “Well, it’s NOT what I expected. . .there are a bunch of us just waiting in this room, but they haven’t taken us anywhere yet.” She encouraged us to call frequently as once she left–I guess–the foyer of heaven? the heavenly vestibule if you will?–we’d no longer be able to reach her by phone.
My father was such a huge presence in our lives, that his influence is still there, so in some ways it feels as if he’s not gone at all. We are still a family–and strong family–without him physically here, because he spent his life teaching us how to get along in the world, and no matter how annoyed we have ever gotten with each other–our family has never fought or had protracted silences. We always love each other no matter what and try to enjoy the time we have.
I think the hardest part for Mom is losing half of herself–not having someone to talk to–to bounce ideas off of–to make decisions with–and she is having to make LOTS of big decisions. We are all looking forward to seeing her this week, and in April, she will be here with us for two weeks, so we are looking forward to that too.
I hope you have a wonderful spring break/Easter week wherever you are.