It’s been two months since my father passed away. The grief is still so fresh, in many ways, and stale in others. I keep finding new ways to miss him, new moments that come up in my day-to-day life that I wish I could share with him.
My father’s death pushed me to quickly consider things like the afterlife. It’s one thing to think about heaven in general; to think about what happens after someone dies. It’s another to lose a loved one suddenly, feel left behind, and wonder where they are now, where their spirit is. There have been moments where I say to myself “I wish Dad could see this.”
In my head, I know, or maybe hope, that he is seeing all of this. That he’s somewhere he isn’t feeling any more pain, that the hacking cough he had for years due to smoking is gone, that the aches in his varicose veins don’t trouble him anymore; that he’s watching us, and will see us as we grow over the years. That he’ll be proud of us, just as he was when he was still physically with us.
Just the other day, I saw a truck from his work downtown. I always used to snap a photo of the trucks on my phone and text him with the location, because I knew he’d appreciate it, appreciate my noticing it. Without even thinking, I went to grab my phone out of my pocket to take a picture – and then I realized.
A day or two later, I had a dream that I was getting on a plane to go somewhere, and that somehow I knew I was never going to see him again, but I got to give him one last, huge hug before turning on my heel and starting to walk away. I woke up in a sweat, really shaken from this. How I wish I could give him one more hug. But I’ll never get to do that, and I have to somehow be okay with that.
It’s only been two months since my father died, and yet – it’s been two months already. We’ve been so busy trying to deal with the funeral, his belongings, the things he left behind, plus things like forwarding his mail and closing out his estate. For me personally, it’s kept me busy a lot of the time. Two months have flown by. And yet I know this journey of grief is still in its infancy.
I know there will be some days that are easier than others. I’m already not looking forward to Father’s Day, or Christmas, or next January 4, which will be the anniversary of his passing. I know some days will be incredibly hard. I know anytime I pick up his cell phone in my hands, which still somehow smells like his cigarettes, it will take me back. I know someday the memories will make me smile.
Right now, I still feel so much sorrow. I can’t help but focus on all the things he won’t get to see: me turning 30 someday; me having kids someday; my nephews growing up and all their milestones; me buying a house, and a car.. the list goes on and on. And I’m still dealing with all of those moments when I go to text him, or call him, or think about something I absolutely HAVE to tell him… and then realize I can’t.
I know someone reading this might say “Well, you can still talk to him!” and sometimes, but honestly rarely, I do. I may have mentioned this before but this has also driven my anxiety up a wall, to the point where I went and spoke to my PCP about it. Someone (not the doctor) asked me what I have to feel anxious about. I said simply: dying.
I feel my heart race and I wonder: what if it’s a heart attack? I feel a pain in my leg and think: what if it’s a blood clot? I feel a pressure in my chest and wonder: what if something’s wrong with my lungs? I go to bed at night and wonder: what if I don’t wake up? I think back to the night of January 3, when I went to sleep, not knowing the next morning I would wake up and my father would be dead.
I feel sorrow, I feel anger, I feel hurt. This hurts more than I could have ever imagined, and I don’t think you can know what it feels like unless you’ve lost a parent, too. Sending love to all of you out there.