I’ve been avoiding the page. Hiding from the depths of my grief. Doing anything to pass the time, but write. I know that writing will take me deeper than even looking at photos of my father. I fear the writing will be unbearable.
I find myself thinking about my last night with my father. The night before he passed. The night nurse’s aide was someone new. As my family left that day, I told them that if they wanted to be with my father when he passed, they should stay that night. The aide glanced over at me, and nodded. She could tell from my father’s breathing that he was close. And somehow, I just knew that night would be his last. My family said the nurse had agreed to call them if he showed signs of being close. They thought they could get there in time.
On some level, I wanted them to leave. I wanted to spend my father’s last moments with him alone. I wanted to complete the vigil that I’d begun with just the two of us. I also wasn’t sure they could bear it. I think they felt the same.
My father hadn’t had a shave in nearly a week. He never grew facial hair. Except in the summer when we were in the woods at the cabin. When I was little, I used to stand next to him in the bathroom while he shaved, and watch. He used an electric razor. He’d put the cover on, hand the razor to me, and tell me to give it a try. I’d run the razor over my face. Then he’d take the cover back off, and let me shave him. Yes, my father was very fastidious when it came to grooming. He always carried a comb. He’d comb his hair before we went into a store, and ask me how it looked. Some might say he was vain. Some might say that’s where I got my vanity. I knew he’d not want to leave his body covered in facial hair. So I asked the nurse’s aide if she could shave him.
“Yes, I would be happy to. I used to love to shave my granddad,” she said.
I’m not sure what happened the night before he died, but he looked years younger. It wasn’t just the shave. All the lines on his face had faded.
More scattered thoughts.
I watched the sun rise while I held my father’s hand and waited for my family to arrive the morning he died. For two hours, I sat and held his hand. I didn’t want to leave his side until they arrived. And I worried that his hand would be cold when my mother took it. I needed to keep his hand warm.
He died at 6:00 a.m. sharp. That seems incredibly significant. I don’t know why. Perhaps because it epitomizes the orderly way in which he lived his life.
It’s been thirty-eight days since my father passed. His body was cremated that same day, and we held a memorial service two days later on Saturday. We sat in the same church, in the same row, where we sat six months earlier when my brother died. Only this time, I sat on one side of my mother, and my sister and her husband sat on the other where my father had sat holding my mother’s hand six months earlier.
There is so much more to write about. The details of the service and the reception afterward. My exploration of consciousness and whether it exists independent of the death of the brain. (Yes, I want there to be something more than this life.) The beautiful Saturday two weeks later when we scattered the ashes of my father and brother in the Gulf.
It’s time to write.