Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The First Goodbye

My Dad passed away yesterday. For as much as I tried to prepare myself for this loss, I am completely devastated. As I wander around my house going about my morning routine, everything looks the same. But it feels so different.

It is just so quiet. As if everything has stopped. For these past few months, I always felt like there was somewhere I needed to be. If I wasn't in Michigan spending time with my Dad or helping my family, I was thinking about him and wondering what would happen next. And in his final days, I was spending as much time as I could by his bedside. I was so fortunate to be able to say everything I needed to say while he was still alive. I am so lucky to have no regrets and nothing left unsaid between us.

But now he is gone. And I don't have to worry about whether he's in pain or whether he will have to go back to the hospital. I don't have to wonder if we will be able to respect his wishes and keep him at home, or how my Mom will be able to handle the weight of 24-hour care giving. I don't have to question whether we made the right choices along the way, because everything played out just as it was intended.

And now there is just quiet. So much quiet all around me. And I am left to wonder how such an unassuming person who always seemed to blend into the background can leave such a huge void. It isn't like my Dad had a big personality or was the life of the party. He didn't tend to have strong opinions, but he would tell you what he thought if you asked him.

Most of the time, my Dad would just sit on the couch observing and taking it all in. Or he would nod off for a few minutes and re-join the conversation at a later point, somehow not missing a beat. He was always present. And that was always enough. By his mere presence, he gave me what I needed. A sense of comfort and continuity in my life. My Mom has always been the heart of our family. But my Dad was the soul.

So today, I begin the long process of grieving. And this note is the first of many goodbyes. My grief feels like a fire hose ready to spray out all over the place, but right now I am only letting it come out in small bursts by turning it on and off at the spigot. And sometimes, it just drips out like a slow leaky faucet that I can't turn off. When I woke up this morning, my body just picked up where it left off, crying out the tears that were left over from the night before.

I have no idea how I am going to get through this. But I know that somehow I will. I just miss my Dad. I miss him so much that my heart hurts. Goodbye Dad. I love you so much and my life will never be the same without you.

I will try to handle everything with grace. I will try to follow your example of being present without trying to manage or control the situation. I will try to show kindness and compassion to everyone I meet. And let them find their own way, just as you did for me.

This is only the first of many goodbyes I will write to you, Dad. I hope that each one brings me a little closer to acceptance and healing.

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