Aftermath

After my Dad died, a numb patch surfaced in my brain.

I’d be buckling Summer into her car seat,  her sticky fingers flailing, rain drops splattering on my back as I bent over the car to pull straps and quell flailing limbs, as I’ve done so many times and then it would hit, like a sudden train.  My dad is dead.

Or, walking down the dock to the kayaks, Jude’s small hand enveloped in mine and the green-blue ripple of the Arm in May and the crumpled coconut Lara bar wrapper moving in my pocket as I walked.  An everyday, mindless moment and then, my Dad’s threadbare running shoes, suddenly in my peripheral by the base of the dock.  All stepped on and streaked in mud and debris.  A reminder of all the years he was here and the fact that now that he’s not.  And sudden tears, silent, because it’s still so confusing to Jude, who still sees him.

“Gradat’s right here, Mommy.  He plays with me.  He’s not sick anymore.”

***

I think a lot about the people surrounding my Dad’s death, because the numb patch occupies his actual presence.  I think about the man in the bedroom next to his in palliative care, with the age-spotted face and huge grin, his shuffling feet.  I think of the skinny Indian woman who sat silently in her bed, alone.  I think of the swarm of nurses in emergency and the blinking buttons and the crystal sharp clarity that comes in every moment in death’s immediate vicinity.  I think about what it all means, and what it takes to live a life mostly devoid of regret.  I think about the things I can do that would make my Dad proud, if he can see me.  I long ago gave up on God and the inherent meaning of life and all of that bullshit, but there is something deep and powerful in me that believes that somehow, in some inexplicable format, he’s still around.  In Jude’s hand, in Summer’s flailing, hopeful fingers,

4 thoughts on “Aftermath

  1. This really speaks to me. It’s been almost a decade since my dad died and I still have those moments where it hits me instantly like a gut punch and literally shocks me to realise that he’s actually gone. Time has lessened and spaced out these moments for sure, but I think they’ll always be there. I don’t mean to discourage you into thinking you’ll always feel this sad though, time brings peace and acceptance and the knowledge that they’re never really gone. It also brings an overwhelming sense of gratitude for having been such an important part of their journey in the first place. I used to feel very cheated and I still do sometimes but now I mostly just think about how lucky I was to have had such a good dad for as long as I did. Anyway, hang in there. It does get better.

  2. I’m just seeing this now, Kristin. Your words resonate. I’m in a stage of life where I’m realizing I’m not living up to who I want to be for me and who I want to be for my kids and time isn’t just waiting for me to figure it out. Our parents, while still here and healthy (thank goodness), are aging and I know these issues around health, death, dying are all around the corner. Our society doesn’t talk about it, or teach us how to handle it before, during or after the process, so we end up just muddling through. I’m babbling, but I want to let you know that your words fell hard on my open ears and open heart. Thinking of you.

  3. Sorry to hear about your losing your dad, Kristin. He sounds like quite a guy! I lost my own dad at (my) age 23, so don’t know what it would have been like to have had a male parent during my adult years. It’s so hard to lose a loved one.

    Virtual hugs,

    Judie

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