My dad believed in visitors from the afterlife. He was also a man of stories, and one of his frequent stories was a memory from when his younger brother, John, died as a teenager in the early 70s. The story goes like this: John was in his hospital bed, comatose in the very last minutes of life. My dad had rushed to his bedside from several hours north, barely making it in time. Right before John succumbed to cancer and died, my dad looked up and saw, floating near the ceiling in the corner of that hospital room, ethereal versions of his grandmother, grandfather, and an aunt. Dad said it was as if they were there to greet John’s spirit on the other side. Continue reading “Waiting”
Three weeks, one day.
These days, I measure the passage of time based on my father’s passing. In these subsequent 22 days since his death, grief has taken its place in my life like a shadow. My only real reprieve is for a few hours of work each day when I’m so immersed in the crazy world of employee relations that I can compartmentalize my pain.
My dad died nine days ago after having suffered a massive stroke two days prior. He died in a hospital in southeastern Indiana while my connecting flight was sitting on the tarmac in Salt Lake City, getting ready to take off for Indianapolis.
I didn’t get to say goodbye.
Of all my memories, the one I associate most with my grandfather is a crushed velvet couch piled six across and two high with Cabbage Patch Dolls. Blondes. Brunettes. Redheads. Boys. Girls. There seemed to be one of every kind displayed on that couch in that wood-paneled living room.
When November rolls around every year, there are always two dates on the calendar that matter – my birthday and Thanksgiving. The first grows less significant each year as I reach the age where I start to pretend that I don’t have birthdays at all. The latter, which is a holiday that’s supposed to be filled with gratitude and love and familial closeness, leaves me empty.
It’s been a year, Kyle, since I kissed you on the head for the last time and watched as you drifted into a peaceful death. I know that you’re finally free from pain but a year later, I’m definitely not. Our family isn’t the same without you, buddy, and I’d give anything to have you back. I know I can’t, though, so I have to deal with the pain and trudge on. You were the most wonderful companion and I hope I did right by you. I hope you knew I loved you right until your very last breath. I’m sorry I didn’t know how sick you were sooner. A year later, I realize that I was in denial. I refused to accept that my Kyle, my baby boy, my shadow for the past 13 years wasn’t doing well. In the end, I know that we couldn’t have stopped the cancer and that it was your time to leave me but it doesn’t make the hurting any less acute. I’ve shed many tears, and I’ll shed many more in the years to come because you’re gone.