On January 17, one week before his 82nd birthday, Dad passed away from complications during a cardiac procedure. As deeply as I’ve felt these past three weeks, I’ve waited until now to try to put those feelings into words.
I have done some writing in the aftermath of losing Dad, but mostly for others . . .
An obituary for the local papers that gave tribute to Dad’s life, his accomplishments and passions.
Memories I jotted down to share during the memorial mass.
Class assignments and correspondence as I’ve attempted to maintain contact with my students, despite the numbness I experienced when I stepped back into the classroom.
The days move very slowly since losing Dad. Mornings and evenings are the hardest, I find.
I wake up and begin to remember that everything has changed–Dad is no longer here on earth, even though he often occupies my dreams. He won’t be calling out to see what’s for breakfast when I’m back at the farmhouse or phoning me in Birmingham to let me know that he sold some bushels of grain and wants to show me a new piece of ground that’s for sale when I head back to Illinois.
At night, I’m fine as I read student papers or watch a movie with Bruce and the girls. Then, the papers are put away and everyone in the house goes to bed. I sit alone and think, and remember, and mourn.
Friends who have lost a parent tell me that the feeling is indescribable. I think they’re right.
Grief is a new emotion, one that’s different than depression. When I think of Dad, I feel immense gratitude for the time that we spent together and all of the qualities that made him who he was–his wit, curiosity, strength, compassion, love.
Depression is a feeling of hopelessness and emptiness. Grief–if I can sufficiently describe what I’m feeling–is another kind of loss. It’s an absence that makes the ones left behind wish they had just one more day with someone who changed the way they experienced the world. My memories of Dad bring me a sense of hopefulness in this life and in what lies beyond.