Over the past couple of days, my family has gone through the rituals of saying our final goodbyes to my dad. I was dreading visitation, because it puts you in such a position to "host" the event, when you really just want to sit and cry. A friend who has experienced a great deal of loss over the past few years told me to really focus on the stories people would tell of my dad. She said to really listen to what folks had to say about him. I really did try to do this. I learned things about my dad from his friends, co-workers and fishing buddies that I did not know. I did hear some great stories. I did see that my dad was really loved and respected by so many in the community. Many of the guys that worked for him at B.G.M.U. had tears in their eyes when they spoke to me about him. It made me proud to be his daughter. I know that in the coming days, weeks and months, these stories about daddy will bring me comfort. You do "host" visitation, but I also did enjoy seeing friends of my family, family members that I rarely spend time with and a couple of big surprise reunions of dear friends from my childhood. I was sincerely moved by the number of friends who came up from Tennessee to pay their respects to my dad and to show support for me and my family. I want to write more about the friends I have been blessed with at a later time, but just haven't found the right words to even start that tribute. They deserve so much more than my simple words.
My life over the past many months has revolved around doing my best to help take care of my father and spend as much time with him as I could. I don't know how many times I have driven between my home in Tennessee and his in Kentucky since May. When I was home, it was a whirlwind of taking care of my household, showing my face in the office for a bit and figuring out how quickly I could get back to my dad's. When I was at my dad's I hated when the days would roll around that I had to leave there. It was exhausting running up and down I-65, but it was what I had to do. Being with daddy was bittersweet. I wanted to be there all the time, but watching him failing was heart wrenching. I enjoyed the times he was talkative, but knowing those conversations were the last ones we would share was hard. The days were filled with helping him, getting him medication, food, to the bathroom when he needed it. During the times he slept, I worked furiously at my job because I didn't want to let any of my responsibilities there falter. I wasn't sleeping when there because I was always listening to see if he and Jan needed my help during the nights. At home I wasn't sleeping because I could not shut off the thoughts of his pending death and what that meant to me. These last months have been the hardest of my life.
After dadddy died on Friday night, the next couple of days my time was filled with making arrangments, planning, running errands, spending some time with friends who had rushed to be with me and making calls and answering emails. Then visitation and the funeral and the family coming back to the house to share a meal and memories of daddy. Dealing with death is very busy for a bit. Yesterday evening, I packed up the items in my dad's house that I had taken and left because of living there a few days a week. We loaded my car and Kim's with suitcases and flowers and plants from the funeral, food that Jan wanted out of the house and made our trek home. I've not slept more than 2 or 3 hours a night since last Thursday. Last night I turned out the light at 9:30 and slept nearly straight through until 10:00 this morning. I've not slept that late in the morning since I was in my 20's. I'm rested, but foggy minded, which I know is grief. I came downstairs, drank coffee, spent some times with the dogs, started some laundry and then found myself standing in the kicthen overcome by an overwhelming sense of emptiness and struggling to figure out what I am supposed to do next. I no longer have to rush through taking care of things at home so that I can hurry and get back to my dad's. I know that my life will get back to the routine I followed before my dad got sick pretty quickly, but at this moment all I can think is okay...now what?