Monday, April 03, 2017

The Things We Think When We Aren't Thinking At All ...

Last week, Stoney and I drove up north to go to a funeral for someone in his extended family.   My first thought, as we were walking into the funeral home, was "This is the first funeral we've gone to together."

This thought could not have been further from the truth.

I honestly don't even know where this thought came from.  We've attended so many funerals together it's both shocking and disheartening.  My best friend ... one of his best friends ... a mutual friend ... then ancillary funerals of my cousin and a life-long friend of mine.  With our record of funerals, you would think Stoney and I have been together a decade instead of four years.

If I had to guess, and I am, I suspect the random thought related to my Dad.  When I walked into the small but lovely chapel, everything reminded me of my father's funeral.  This service was for (and please bare with me because this is convoluted) my future brother-in-law's wife's father.  I met this man several times at various family holiday affairs and he was genuinely sweet and friendly. 

When my grandfather died in my mid-20's, I cried at the graveside.  I didn't cry for my grandfather because he was a mean, selfish prick.  No, I found myself unexpectedly sobbing that day because, as my brother and I walked past the casket for the last time, I looked over at my dad.  His entire face was just a twisted mask of sorrow.   At that moment, I made the connection.  I realized that he was losing his father ... and someday that would be me ... someday I would lose mine.

Last night, I had a similar experience ... but in reverse.  I looked at my future-sister-in-law ... I saw her infinite sadness ... and thought, "I remember that."

Even though Stoney and I have held hands through more services than I can count on one hand, I didn't know him when I lost Dad ... although I wish I did.  God, my Dad would've loved Stoney.  My Dad would've given anything to have a son to watch a game with ... a guy to grill out with ... someone who wasn't a woman that he could just spend a Sunday with.  I'm not exaggerating when I say my heart hurts to think of what could've been.

Sigh.  But what's done is done.  And although the last 24 hours of Dad's life was more horrible than I could've imagined, I did have eight months with him after his heart attack.  I had eight months to say good bye ... to have all sorts of conversations with him that we'd never had.   It's odd what brings things back to you ... and I didn't think driving up north that night would bring up all these memories.

My Dad's birthday would've been this Saturday ... I think I'll ask Stoney to grill out something in his honor.  That man loved to grill.  And he loved me.  I was an odd photo bombing, butter-eating child ... but my dad loved me.  So I have that going for me.

This is the book I never read
These are the words I never said
This is the path I'll never tread
These are the dreams I'll dream instead
This is the joy that's seldom spread
These are the tears
The tears we shed
This is the fear
This is the dread
These are the contents of my head
And these are the years that we have spent
And this is what they represent
And this is how I feel
Do you know how I feel?
'Cause I don't think you know how I feel

Annie Lennox - Why

Note - When they released my Dad from Memorial hospital and registered him with home hospice, they told us he would probably crash on the ambulance ride.  He signed a DNR ... and the doctor prepared us for what was certainly going to happen.  I left the hospital about 15 minutes ahead of the ambulance ... to turn on the central air and get the house ready for him.  Annie Lennox's song, Why, was playing on the radio ... the corn was growing and the fields were the deepest green ... the sky was the brightest blue.  The day was so gorgeous ... and the contrast of that beauty to the pain of knowing what was coming ... and all the while that song played.  Anytime I write about Dad, you'll see Why at the bottom.  I'm not being lazy or repetitive ... but that song is him.

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