Grief, Four Years Later

It’s hard to believe that four years later, I still have something to say about my father’s passing.

Grief, Four Years Later

The Strange Things I Remember

I remember that it was Friday, the morning of Inauguration Day, when I got the call. My cousin later joked that my dad had no patience for the new administration, so he quit beforehand. 

I’d like to imagine he had the life force remaining by that point to make such a decision, but I’d seen him the week before too exhausted to recall that he was still eating.

That morning, I hadn’t changed out of my workout clothes yet. My nanny helped pick out and pack up clothes for D while I showered and washed my hair. Apparently i shouldn’t have washed my hair until after his cremation, but I didn’t know that and probably would have ignored the advice anyway.

After calling my boss to tell him I would be out, I didn’t answer any phone calls or texts. In fact, I didn’t have the nerve to check those voicemails until several months later.

While my husband arranged my last-minute plane ticket and drove back from work to take D and me to the airport, I cobbled together a capsule wardrobe for a trip whose duration I didn’t know and shoved stuff for me and my not-quite toddler into a carryon.

With K planning to travel the next day, I didn’t feel like I had to get everything fully right. And I didn’t. And I didn’t—for the first time in my many years of priding myself on efficient and effective traveling—even care.

What Still Upsets Me

But four years later, four years of grieving and railing against all of it, certain things still bug me: 

Like polishing trivets I didn’t know my mother owned to serve meals to family who traveled from all over the world to support us and to pay their respects.

Or choosing between a couple of brand new sets of traditional clothes for my father’s body to wear for his cremation.

It was such a waste. He could have enjoyed those things in life. I assure you I didn’t care then and don’t care now what anyone thought of his clothes—or mine—for his funeral.

I appreciate that family and friends showed up. I hated that it was necessary.

If only he had gone to the doctor and followed the guidance for his age, he might be with us today, playing with his grandchildren and challenging me to new and better puzzles.

Now What?

So I went for my first colonoscopy last month, as recommended by doctors if you have a first-degree relative with colon cancer. People talk about how much it sucks. It’s not that bad. I will tell you it beats chemotherapy any day of the week.

Perhaps the sheer unfairness of cancer is why I struggled so much with his loss. I finally sought therapy a year after his passing, breaking down three minutes into my appointment. She told me to journal. As a writer, I should have been doing that anyway. But it made it possible for me to let go of some of the pain I was hanging on to.

I still miss talking to my dad. I remember the feel of his hand in mine, the shape of his nails, and the firmness of his grip. I miss challenging him to board games and I hate that my kids won’t know him. My daughter only has fuzzy memories of her grandfather and my son has none at all.

So, four years later, how do I really feel? Do I cry randomly? Not so much anymore. Does it still hurt? Unimaginably.

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