Stiff upper lip. Everyone has loss in their life. I had my daddy for longer than I thought I would. I should be grateful. I am grateful.
But my heart aches. It folds on top of itself in my chest when I try to take a deep breath while remembering the way Daddy sat in his chair with Colin nestled in his lap the last time we visited.
My heart winces every time a picture of Daddy comes up on my digital picture frame. I didn't remember that I had so many pictures of him. I'm lucky to have so many pictures of him with Christopher.
My heart whimpers when I tag a thought or a tidbit in my mind as "something to tell Daddy."
My heart is so broken.
My mind forgets though. In the day to day, it really hasn't changed much. I didn't get to see him often anymore, and he didn't like talking on the phone very much.
I missed him before he was ever gone.
But now he is gone, and I miss him even more. I didn't think that was going to happen. Naive, I suppose, but I didn't. I thought I had made peace with his passing as the Parkinson's stripped away slivers of him in between every phone call and every visit.
He was never completely gone before he died. It's a myth that loved ones with dementia are gone before their deaths. They aren't. They are still with you. You can still hold a hand, stroke a cheek, rest your head on their shoulder. They are still there for you to imagine that you just caught a glimmer of their former selves in their vacant eyes.
I waited for that glimmer for hours for the days he was in hospice.
This Father's Day, I'm not only heartbroken for myself, but for my children. Colin will not remember my daddy at all. Christopher will remember him barely. Mallory will remember him as always being sick. He loved the three of them so very much. I know that he did.
A couple of weeks ago, Christopher asked me to tell him a story about G-Daddy. I almost told him no because I didn't think my heart could stand it. However, I launched into the story of a military man turned defense attorney. A man who loved his family and his church. A man who loved bar-b-que and Mississippi State University. The man who was my daddy.
I don't suppose I will ever quit telling stories about you, Daddy. Stories to help my children know and remember you. Stories to help heal my broken heart.