Sunday, February 12, 2012

A year of goodbyes

A year ago today, we buried my daddy.

Parkinson's and dementia had left him barely recognizable by phone. In person though, there was no mistaking his laugh, the twinkle of mischief in his eye, or the way he held my hand. He never stopped being my daddy.

This past year has been a blur of goodbyes to him. I thought, and I thought wrong, that I had said goodbye to him before he even left. I thought that since he slipped away slowly over time, that I was coping with his death before it even happened.

That, I've discovered, is an impossible thing to do.

Hospice isn't the place to say goodbye. It's the place to say, "I love you. I will be alright." It's the time to hold on tightly and brace yourself with your loved one so that they know that for as long as they are still breathing, they will never be alone.

Only in death can you really say goodbye. Even though he is gone, I keep having to say it to him. Goodbye.

I've been thinking about the idea of heaven lately. I'm supposed to believe in it, as a Christian, and I suppose I do, but I don't believe in any actual description of it. I kind of just have it in my head that it's a promise that after you die, things won't suck.

This week though, I've tried to convince myself of a more concrete vision of heaven. Somewhere over the rainbow bridge where my daddy and Susan's gram would be waiting for Susan to cross over and give them big hugs. Somewhere in a field where Watson, Kepler, and Chelsea would all bound towards her, greeting her with wagging tails and big sloppy kisses. Somewhere Susan could continue being Susan, just without pain or sickness.

I don't know though. It's just not coming to me.

Visions of heaven don't really help right now anyway. Right now, I just miss them. And that has to be okay for now. To just miss them. Daddy and Susan.