Monday will be four weeks since my Dad left us, my sister holding one of his hands and I, the other. It still doesn't feel real that the first man in my life, a man who has known me longer than anyone, is gone.
I thought I was doing pretty well. I got through the first few days of tears and was able to keep it together most of those days. My grandson and my husband kept me busy. Immediate things that needed to be tended to on Dad's behalf were taken care of. And I held it together. On the day of his funeral, while delivering the eulogy, my voice only broke once, and the people who had gathered there waited patiently while I recovered and finished my speech on Dad.
Then I hit a wall. It happened when I received the health insurance "Explanation of Benefits" in the mail. The ambulance ride cost. The emergency room cost. The private room. The x-rays. I knew those days. I knew the days upon which each event occurred. Every day that he received meds. Or special fluids. Blood tests. All of it. And I crumbled in a sea of grief.
As I've wandered in a daze through the last few days, not being able to look at his smiling photograph that sits atop my dresser without doubling over in grief and feeling like someone slammed me in the stomach, I've tried to focus on more positive things. And there was something today that hit me, as I was driving, and caused me to giggle. And my giggles turned into chuckles. The chuckles turned into guffaws. And then I was shrieking in laughter.
You see, my Dad always wanted to raise a lady. No, let's face it: My Dad wanted to raise a glamour girl. A full-scale, classy replica of Audrey Hepburn. I've tried over the years. I've tried hard. And I've saved him some disappointments by not telling him stories like the day my slip fell off at Boston's Government Center just before boarding the train. I avoided telling him about the time I walked into work, the manager of the Boston law firm, with a big white sweat sock stuck to my back. Or the time I was running down the hall of another law firm, trying to make it out to the front desk before the Fedex guy came for his pickup when my brown wrap-around skirt flew off in a big "FWAP" like a sheet that's blowing hard in the wind and slaps against itself. Or any of those times that he might shake his head and wonder where he went wrong.
I blew it again for Dad on the day of his funeral. I arrived at the funeral home, the first one there, and walked into the room where he lay. The casket was opened because the funeral director said it was just in case the family wanted to say last good byes. I nodded and approached my father, as he lay peacefully in his final bed. He looked beautiful. I used to hate it when people would say, "Oh he/she looks good." Shit, they didn't look good. They were freaking DEAD. But I was astonished at how beautiful my father looked. Peaceful. Serene. Happy.
I knelt at his side, and bent my head to pray. I reached my hand out and touched his arm. And the tears came. And came, and came some more. But it was just me and Dad there and I felt like I could relax for a few minutes before anyone else arrived. I grabbed a tissue and blew my nose. Hard. And, at that moment, just like out of that Seinfeld episode when Kramer drops a Junior Mint into the gut of an unwitting operating patient, I gazed in horror as I watched, almost slow motion-like, as a big, clear, wet drop of snot flew up into the air and landed smack dab on Dad's suit, just above his folded hands.
"Oh, Jesus, I said. Dear God." I looked at Dad in a panic. He wasn't stirring. I looked, horrified, at the now widening circle of moisture as it absorbed into Dad's suit. I glanced behind me to verify that we were still alone. Dutifully, I dabbed my very wet tissue at the snot spot in an effort to get rid of it. That very wet tissue only made it worse.
"Oh my God, Dad," I said. "I am so sorry. I mean, shit. Wait, no, I don't mean that. Oh, Dad, I am so sorry." I knelt there for a minute, looking at him, wondering what he thought. I leaned closer and said, "You know, we could just think of it as you're taking a part of me with you. You know, some of my DNA. " And then I I stood, leaned over, and kissed his forehead. And began to giggle. Until my giggles turned back into tears and I knew that despite the fact that his girl was never and never will be Audrey Hepburn, he loves me anyway.
Copyright 2012 liamsgrandma