Friday, March 28, 2014

Things Have Changed

My dad died on his 60th birthday on February 13, 2014.

I don't even know if the details really matter now. I mean, I keep playing the facts of what happened over and over to grab at the possibility of knowing that it happened. Even writing that first sentence seems fake. It feels like a lie. I feel like I'm still going to call my parents' house and he'll answer and I'll tell him about my new job or how Emily sits still for French braids or how we're finally moving out of our awful apartment. But I can't.

I can't even understand how I'm supposed to make him a memory instead of a live person now. On Facebook, his brothers and sisters created this page that we can (I guess) collect memories of him. But it's not helping me at all. It's not making his death any more real than me typing the words myself.

It's real to me when I think of how it affects everyone else. It hurts my heart when I think of how I don't want Emily to forget him but that she doesn't understand that he's not coming back. She talks about "Papa" all the time. She says to me: "I miss Papa." "I love Papa." "Papa, I love you." She imagines she is playing with him. At my mom's house, we planted his ashes with a tree so they grow into it. Emily brings everything to Papa's tree. I watch her bring her little wagon and two shovels there. She puts one shovel in with the tree and she digs with the other.

It hurts my heart when I think of my sisters missing my dad. I held them at the hospital. I told them not to worry. I tried so hard to be comforting because the staff made it seem minor. I feel like I lied to them. They won't have the things I got to have with Dad and it's not fair to them.

It hurts my heart the most when I think of my mom. I have never seen any marriage like theirs. The way he looked at my mom is the way that she should always be looked at - adored. Loved. It hurts when I think of how much my mom must miss him. Every time we talk and either of us get emotional, all I do is wish I could do something. I expect him to come out of his office while my mom and I are giving Emily a snack. I expect to hear Emily say delightfully, "Papa! I stuck! I expect him to get her out of her high chair and snuggle her and hug her. To make some flirty comment at my mom. To be there. I don't understand how he can just not be there.

I'm not mad at God or anything. There were so many things that happened along the way that God showed me His hand in this, that He was there. There's been so many things since then that have showed me that He still has His hand in this.

I went to church about a week and a half after. I had the worst time keeping it together during worship. Then one lyric set me off and I just cried. It was all I could do only to cry that much. I had a couple of my good friends hug me and it was like the tears were being squeezed out of me. I avoided going back for a few weeks because I was scared that it would be like that again. That everyone would keep telling me that it's okay if I cry because I'm "surrounded by family." It's scary to be there with this happening. It's scary when everyone knows the reason that you're crying and I feel like there's a way that I'm expected to react now. I started to worry, what if I don't cry? Would that mean I'm over it? What if I cry too much? Does that mean I'm overcompensating? I went back again last weekend and still cried. I found myself wishing for those hugs again. Wishing I had those people near me and I was too proud to tell them that I just needed that.

Maybe that's why it's unreal. I'm too proud but too scared to say to someone, "Can I cry with you for a minute?" But it's different now because, after a while, people don't really ask how you are anymore. It goes back to normal for them but I'm still here. Maybe it's unreal because my coping method is keeping busy. Since we move in a couple days, it's been easy to be busy. But that won't last.

I miss him. I miss how he hugged me so tight before I left their house every time. I miss his laugh. I miss his protectiveness. I miss talking to him about seafood. I miss planning Mom's presents with him. I miss telling him the good things that Eric has done. I miss watching him play cars with Emily. I miss seeing both of my parents come out to the car the second Emily and I arrive. I miss how he sang. I miss my daddy.

A few weeks ago, my mom was telling me about what happened that night before his heart attack and every word of their moments just brought me so much comfort.

I wish I was there because, every time I have to remind myself that this is real and not a horrible, awful nightmare, I think of what I saw over the course of the three days between his heart attack and turning off the machines. And I still think that it can't possibly be true.

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