Thursday, 17 April 2014

What to do in case your daddy dies when you aren't ready - which is ... any time, every time, for all of your life

Tell him you love him every single time you walk away because you never know when you will look back and your last words will be "I'll see you later" ... and you won't have.  And you'll be remembering how you said "I love you!" and he said "I love you too, Jess" as you walked out the door past the nosy nurse, and his voice was as reassuring and raspy and low-key and accepting as it ever and always was and you can't stop thinking about how you didn't know it was the last time you'd ever hear him saying "I love you".
Tell him how much you'll miss him even though it's the last thing you think he wants to hear and you want to be a positive bedside cheerleader that only talks about the good stuff.  Because everyone wants to know they'll be missed even if they are sure they are gonna make it through this one, too.
Don't wait for the right moment.  There isn't one.  There are nurses and machines and beeping alarms and visitors and your grandma will be there, frail and lovely and strong, and you won't want to upset her .... but don't wait for the right moment.  Don't wait for it to be perfect.  Don't wait until you can talk without crying.  Or say the right things.  Because that time won't ever come.  It will always be imperfect, but trust me, it's better if it happens and it is crazy and wonky and tragic and ridiculous all at the same time.

Find something you can believe in without asking a lot of snarky and/or bitter questions.  We are programmed for a belief in the eternal because believing that death is the complete and utter end of everything is still a belief in the infinite finality of death.  So whether you believe we live forever in heaven or if you believe it all ends with your last breath, you still believe in eternity.  So find something that makes that a comfort and a blessing for you.  But be open-minded.  Be able to believe that when your two-year-old nephew squeals a delighted "PAPA!" while pointing into an empty corner of the room, that they are seeing him there.

Find a way to live with the missing sounds.  Maybe you play music or watch dumb TV.  Maybe you stay up till 2 am talking to someone.  But find something to fill in the quiet spaces when you should hear the creak of a chair or the whir of a wheelchair or the squelching squeal of soft rubber tires on a laminate floor.

Everything in your life will be missing.  Nothing will be right.  You will cry endlessly at nothing and then forget for hours at a time.  Everything in your life will be there, but it will be stupid and meaningless and wrong and not what you want at all.  You will feel like a toddler with the grief of a mother and a daughter and a woman - sadness will encompass you and then pass, then come back to strangle you again.  Grief will be impossible to control or contain and it will take over your life and you will wonder at what you have become, even as you question why you seem to be able to continue to move on with your life and laugh at jokes and write trite sentences like these ones that do not begin to describe how utterly your life is destroyed.

That's what you do.  That's part of it, anyway.

Find someone who loves you and let them hold you.  Indulge yourself by pretending that your daddy's arms are around you again and all is well.  Cry even harder because they aren't your daddy.  Make sure they are a wonderful, kind, understanding type of love in your life because you will look like a crazy person.

If you still have your dad, call him and tell him you love him.

I love you, daddy.  I know you are happy, wherever you are, but I miss you.