Last night I dreamed about my dad. He passed on a week ago, Saturday. For the first moments when I wake in the morning, I forget that he's gone. I feel the weight of something pressing on my heart, and I wonder at it. That's when I remember. I lie there, feeling the loss of him. Knowing that I will never hug him again in this life. I'll no longer wheel him to dinner in the nursing home where he lived. I won't attach his bib, organize his cutlery. I won't tell him that the lift in his bedroom is a really cool ride and that he would have loved it when he was a kid.
I won't get to stroke the soft gray hair away from his forehead, or fetch a facecloth to wipe his face. I can't kiss his cheek, so carefully shaved by my mother, or turn my face so that he can kiss mine. I'll never hear him say, 'Love you, dear.' Not in this life.
He's free from his wheelchair. No more blood sugar checks, no more insulin. No more eating pureed food and drinking thickened coffee. Imagining him in heaven with God and family gives me comfort . I know that I will see him again. But for now, it doesn't take away the pain of his absence. I feel like a five year old who has let go of her father's hand in a crowd. A panicked, worried child.
To a certain extent, our roles had reversed. I took care of him in the way that he used to care for me. But he remained my father to the very end. I remember being sad about something terrible that happened in our community. I went straight to the nursing home, and over to the table where he was seated. I pulled my chair close to his and laid my head on his shoulder. As I cried, he patted my hand, making those reassuring sounds that parents do. Itt was so comforting, like a blessing from God.
My dad was kind. He was considerate and thoughtful. He has helped so many people, friends and neighbors, because he always cared how people were doing. His life was hard when he was young. Raising seven children, six of them girls, cannot have been easy. He made mistakes. But he never complained, even when life got more uncomfortable at the end. He had the gift of gratitude, and he's done his best to pass it on.
I'm grateful for you, dad. I'm proud to have been your daughter. I'm so happy that you're in a better place. I know that you'll always be there waiting for me, for mom, and all your children. In the meantime, you go on ahead. Have a visit with Count Basie and Oscar Peterson. Listen to some Stan Kenton in the jazz room. Have a wonderful time in heaven, and don't forget to give Uncle Walter and Grandma Ann a hug. I'll be seeing you again.