Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Possibly Thinking Too Much

First, I want to say a big thanks to all of you for your condolence messages, here and elsewhere. Hugs, both physical and virtual, have been mighty helpful to me through all of this. No matter the emotional upheaval that can ensue from romantic entanglements (and you know I’ve had plenty of those) it doesn’t come close to losing a parent.

There have been a number of thoughts that have struck me over the last few weeks since Dad’s death, and I am going to share those in this post. I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts later, but these are the ones that hit early on and stayed with me.

I was surprised and somewhat amused at something I learned from Mom on the drive to the funeral. As we passed a jogger, I said what I always say, “Run! Run for your life!” Mom told me that Dad never passed a jogger without saying, “He/she must be being chased by somebody.” I found it interesting that, even though different, we both had standard sayings for the passing of a jogger.

I come from a long line of oh-don’t-bother-yourself-about-me types, and I have come to the conclusion that we are just a bit too much that way after Mom told me that she woke to find Dad dead in the wee hours of the morning but didn’t call anyone (including myself or FU) except the hospice nurse until after 7:00 a.m. which she figured was a decent hour for making and receiving phone calls. Really Mom? You didn’t want to bother anybody? Really? Actually, I can kind of see her not calling me as I’m a few hours away and not able to get there very soon, but FU is a few minutes away. I know he would have wanted to go over and sit with her as she waited for the hospice nurse and the funeral home personnel (or whoever it is that comes for the body). But no. She took care of it all by herself and then started making calls once it was acceptably late in the morning. (Though really, if it isn’t a serious situation don’t call me at 7:00 a.m., okay? Thanks.)

This whole oh-don’t-bother-yourself-about-me thing is something I have been dealing with in my therapy sessions with Freud for several months now. He said to me at one point (jokingly), “I do believe if you went to the ER gushing blood from a severed artery, and some guy came in with a possibly sprained ankle, you’d tell the ER personnel ‘no, no I’ll be fine, take care of him first.’” I replied (only half joking), “Well, of course, I could just tie a tourniquet around my arm and wait my turn. I don’t want to be pushy.” And now? I haven’t been to therapy since August. I screwed up, and didn’t get appointments scheduled ahead of time, and he got all booked up for September so I don’t go back until mid-October. Now, some might think that the death of a close family member would be reason enough to call one’s therapist to see if one could get squeezed in for a session without having to wait another month, but not me. Nope. Even though I feel like it might do me some good to talk with Freud I just don’t want to be a bother to him or his office staff by asking for special favors EVEN THOUGH he has encouraged me to do just that in the past when I’ve been going through rough patches. Part of me keeps saying “CALL! You need to talk to someone about this.” The other part says, “Well, you’ve waited this long so you might as well wait until your next scheduled appointment.” I will say that I did call my pastor the morning Dad died, and I did go spend two hours with her that day pouring out my emotions so it isn’t as though I haven’t had someone to talk to although I felt really bad about taking up so much of her time.

W and N were both real torn up over Dad’s death. N’s reaction didn’t surprise me much. Under his tough young teen veneer is a very emotional core. I know this. When he told me, “This is too hard. I can’t live through this.” I was actually prepared. I told him that I understand it feels that way, but that we can and will get through it, that we’ll always miss Grandpa but the pain will not always feel as sharp and the only thing we can do is allow ourselves to feel the pain in order to work our way through to the other side. W surprised me by telling me that he felt that my dad was more of a dad to him than his own ever was. He said his dad was rarely around and seldom did they ever talk. It was the first time I ever heard him say anything about his family that was less than glowing. It took me aback just how much W has grieved and continues to grieve the loss of my dad. I have spent a good deal of time trying to help both N and W through their grief, so much so that I sometimes wonder when it will be my turn to grieve and receive comfort from them, or W at least. In one of my less than stellar moments recently I even said to W, “You know. He was my dad. It would be nice if I could be the one that can be all broken up about for a while instead of the one who has to go around comforting everybody else all the time.”

My concentration level is down to near nothing since Dad died. Also, insomnia has become my constant companion which I’m sure doesn’t help the concentration level. When I do manage to get to sleep I dream wild, vivid dreams like the one a few nights ago where I was doing water ballet and having to perform my first solo. Strange.

I have more thoughts than time right now so I’ll stop. For now. More later. Maybe.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Well, Obviously

My dad died recently.

There I said it. Bluntly. Plainly. No easing the pain, no toning down the wording. He is dead. Gone. He was not immortal. He is not coming back.

I will never again see this imposing man. I will never again hear his voice.

When I first found out I was in a bit of shock. W had to remind me that it would be good to call work to let them know I wouldn’t be in that day. It hadn’t at first occurred to me that I wouldn’t go to work that day, the day my mom woke much too early to find my dad had slipped away during the night. Even once W suggested it I sat and pondered for a few minutes whether or not I should go to work that day. Looking back, it seems obvious that I wouldn’t be going to work that day, but in the moment it wasn’t obvious to me at all.

Once I got beyond that paralysis and started to process the words my mom had spoken to me when she called, I cried. I cried and cried and cried. So did W. So did N. We, all three of us, laid on my bed and cried. The thought crossed my mind at that time that we would never stop crying, that it would just go on forever. Looking back, it seems obvious that of course we would eventually stop crying, but in the moment it wasn’t obvious to me at all.

Over the next several days, our lives revolved around handling the practical matters at hand – letting people know we’d be gone and why, packing to head to my mom’s house, driving, buying N a new suit, getting the car fixed (well, sure the car should’ve known this was not the time for a breakdown, but it didn’t and therefore I spent some five hours in a waiting room that smelled like the garage to which it was attached watching inane daytime TV so I could spend several hundred dollars on this lovely little car of mine), gathering photographs to display during visitation, helping mom with anything and everything she needed. Looking back, it seems obvious that we were all numb and not really fully feeling the enormity of my dad’s death, but in the moment it wasn’t obvious to me at all.

On the day of the funeral we arrived at the appointed time. We set about making sure all was set up properly and that Dad looked how he should as he laid peacefully in his casket. We was dressed just as I had seen him every day when he was a teacher – suit and tie. He wore his glasses, just as we all agreed was proper since we was never without them while living. He didn’t have on his toupee which pleased me greatly as it never looked natural and wasn’t how I remembered my daddy. He really only wore it to keep his head warm, and now that didn’t seem to be much of an issue.

During the service, I cried. Not the wailing sobs of days before but silent tears welling in my eyes, spilling over my cheeks as one and another said wonderful things about Dad. I measured everything that went on at the service by what Dad would think of it – the interminably long visitation time prior to the service, the beautiful music selected for the service because they were hymns he loved, the long windedness of one of the speakers, the inclusion of stories of activities that Dad loved. Everything that went on would make me think “What would Dad think of this?” When I could honestly answer that he would have been pleased it pleased me. When I honestly thought he wouldn’t have liked something I couldn’t help but hate it myself. I wanted that service to be perfect, and the way I defined perfect was that it be perfect to Dad if he were there in more than body alone.

After it was all over, a group of extended family went to dinner together at one of Dad’s favorite restaurants. About the only time I see my favorite relatives is when someone dies. That isn’t good. I need to take time and make time to see people who are important to me. That seems pretty obvious to me as I write it and yet on a day to day basis it isn’t obvious to me at all.