Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Death of a father, pt 1.

Two weeks ago, at about this time, I received a phone call alerting me that my father was dead. It was not a total surprise – he had been battling multiple myeloma (a rare cancer of the plasma cell) for almost 3 years.

Thirteen hours previous, my sister called my workplace to tell me to get prepared, because he was obviously dying. I prepared by immediately going to my apartment, and booking a one way flight. I wanted to see him before he left us, and I wanted to stay with him until he was gone.

I didn’t make it.

Loosing someone that has always been a fundamental element in ones life… I find it incredibly confusing. My grieving process is a slow and methodical one, avoiding any public displays, and perhaps that puts me at a loss. I’m sitting here wondering how very long it will take for me to reality to settle in. There were years of yo-yo health combined with chemo treatments, broken bones, radiation, stem cell transplants, dialysis, transfusions, medications, medications for the effects of other medications, watching a once strong man become frail. I thought that seeing his body at the wake would give me a sense of finality to all of that. But it didn’t. His septum was crooked, and he was waxy bronze with thick, unnatural make-up. His lower torso disappeared inside of a box like a stage magician trick, his wedding ring was gone, and he was far to still. It obviously was not him.

So I’m confused. I know that something major has changed. I can tell by the way that people gaze at me sympathetically, gently touch my arm, hug me with more meaning, awkwardly look away. And I have to remind myself that they are doing this because the one continuous male presence in my 31 years of life just doesn’t exist anymore. There is only stark, vacant space where he used to be.

1 comment:

John R. Pierson said...

Grieving is a weird beast I do not understand. When my father died, friends gave me those looks and a close friend of mine Dina Carani told me she knew how I felt. (Her father had died years before.) I got angry at this. I felt she couldn't possibly know how I felt, because I didn't know how I felt. I feel bad about my distant and subtly hostile reaction towards her sympathies. But to this day I still feel I did not need that sympathy, I just wanted to be alone. I wanted my function outside of my personal grieving to be status quo. I know this is a difficult if not impossible expectation, but it is how I feel.