Just like he chose a nice December day to be born in 1949, my father chose an equally beautiful day to die in December 2017. The last month of the last year of his life. The end of calendar years are when we’re all taking stock. Place visited, resolutions met, personal triumphs and possibilities for the next time we go around the sun.
Japan, first ever half-marathon training, turning 30, meeting my adopted new nephew, running the half-marathon were all on my list, checked and/or ready to be checked off. I was also happy in what had seemed like a long dense patchy few years. 2017 Edlyn was ready for whatever 2018 had in store. Dead father? CHECK.
While everyone was collectively putting up their Best 9 of Instagram (most likes!) at the end of the year, I was stumbling over how this could have happened. How did our father be standing right under that tree at the same time the fruit chose to fall. He could have moved a little to the left, right? I was angry. Angry with life, with friends and family who didn’t call or care to ask how we were beyond a day, angry that people would ask that dreadful “what happened” question, as if it mattered. I would wake up with a jolt every morning, my mind telling me that I’m dreaming and the only way to have him alive again is to wake up, Inception style with the kick.
Because my father died two weeks after his accident, I spent one week intensely grieving the loss of his body. He threw up on me as I brushed his teeth, I saw him naked (WHOA DADA!), he wore adult diapers – all things that took so much courage – not for us to perform – but for him to allow us to.
He glowed every time Jacob would visit, his face falling only once when he remembered that in his current state, he’d never be able to carry baby boy again. But he also talked about going out to eat, dancing at his brother’s 50th wedding anniversary party and how one of the top doctors travelling the whole world was doing it on a wheelchair (I can’t verify this, sorry). He was not just giving himself confidence, but us too. Typical good dad, putting his needs aside to take care of us.
2018 Edlyn was all about giving myself the space to grieve his absence, for me and also for so many people who lost him as we did. I didn’t know how to function as a “me”. It has been a time of learning to live again. It’s easy to “I can’t imagine” this whole story, but it’s happened and it’s happening whether we wanted it to or not. Last year was a black hole of possibilities for the worst but it also brought out so much of the best. The dark part about losing someone so integral to your life is the cracks it leaves behind for love to pour back in.
I have never loved my father more that I had seeing him as a quadriplegic. I loved him even more seeing the life he left behind. This lump in my throat and the hollowness I sometimes feel is only worth it because I got to be his daughter. It’s March and I feel foolish for writing a “new year new me” type post but it’s officially Spring so fuck it.
We’re going on two years now. This is the new “I didn’t ask for this but I’ll see what I can do about it” normal. 2019? Cool.