It’s the waiting.
the interminable waiting for you to return,
to enter the room,
to open a door,
to call my nickname or ask me for something.
it’s the feeling
of a breath not fully taken
not fully released,
held eternally in expectation
while time moves on without you.
it’s the knowing
that given a choice you would return
you would call
you would come back.
you have no choices.
it’s sinking feelings
it’s desperate feelings
it’s lonely and sorrowful
hurt beyond repair feelings.
it’s hearing a word only you used to say
smelling your favorite food,
seeing a project you would like,
hearing a joke you would laugh at,
singing to a song you would love
out of sight
little by little or boulder by beastly boulder.
it’s closing my eyes
slowing my mind
so I can try and remember
the feel of your hand in mine.
the sound of your voice in my ear.
It’s the wretched emptiness
where you once were
that cuts me
over and over
while my insistent heart waits for you to return.
I do not believe in Heaven.
I believe this one life is the beautiful, shining opportunity we get to make the most of our time.
So when my Dad died in my arms in late February some of the shock and soul-searing pain stemmed from my belief that he is gone.
Gone, gone, gone.
Never coming back gone.
Also, that I will not see him again. There is no after-life wherein we get to hug it out and catch up on all he has missed. He will simply miss it and I will miss him.
In the time between then and now the only comfort I’ve had is knowing that I showed him and told him every single day that I loved him like crazy. That, and the fact that he is done with all the things that can go wrong in a life, he doesn’t have to worry, fret, or feel pain. He is free.
If I go down to his workroom and close my eyes I can almost remember the smell of him when he did woodworking.
If the day is quiet and I have slept well I can close my eyes and see his last expression or remember our last words to each other.
If I wear his sweater when I’m crying myself to sleep in a world where my father no longer lives than I get peace from knowing the molecules in that sweater once touched him.
I cannot feel him with me because he is no longer here.
I don’t know if this means my grief is different from someone who believes in Heaven but I do know that I feel completely bereft and all of the kind words in the world about having my Dad with me here in some capacity are not comforting.
Just tell me this shit sucks and that losing your person is really hard and then lets go get coffee. If I can breathe I might open up and tell you that sometimes when I can’t sleep I go down to the living room and have a snack with his ashes, remembering all the times in our lives our insomnia drove us to be downstairs, late at night, raiding the fridge, together.
They say the first year of loss is the hardest.
I wouldn’t know, I haven’t made it through the first year. All I can say for certain is that I am still struggling to breathe.
It’s Father’s Day on Sunday and for the first time in my life I will not be writing a poem or baking a cake or choosing a new shirt for the man who gave me everything.
Instead I will be trying to breathe. Trying to force enough air into my lungs to replace the overwhelming need to cry until they give out.
I don’t know where I will be Sunday. Maybe I will be well enough emotionally to visit the bench we dedicated to him at Duck Lake. Maybe I will find solace in cleaning his work room some more, running my hands over the tools he used over and over during his life. Maybe I will be in bed refusing to get up so I don’t have to face my first Father’s Day without my Dad.
All I know is this is still awful, I still hate it, and I’m not going to like it anytime soon.