Grief is a funny thing and I was reminded this past week just how awful and beautiful it can be. My last blog I wrote about an ordinary Tuesday. I sort of took the day hour by hour and chronicled it. Since then, nothing has been ordinary.
One of the last things I did that day was post the blog and I got ready for an early bedtime. Around 10 or 11 the phone rang and it was my sister. She never calls at that time just to chat. I answered quickly. Our dad had had a heart attack in Austin, Tx and was in an ambulance en route to the hospital. We did not know his condition, but we soon learned it was very serious and my sister, my brother and I began to prepare to drive to Austin.
I remember trying to pack that night and I couldn’t make sense of my stuff. I would put something on my bed, like deodorant or a pair of socks and then just sort of stare at it. Finally, I grabbed a bag and kind of tossed some things in. We got on the road about 2 am and drove though fog and mist straight to the hospital.
When I say we drove, I mean my brother drove us. He is ten years younger than me and if you had told me growing up when we were all kids, and I was the oldest, that my rotten little brother would one day drive me through awful weather in the middle of the night hours from home to anywhere I never would have believed you, but not only did he drive us, I never worried about that once.
The next few days were a blur. We stayed by Dad’s side as much as we could with his wife Barb and other family- our step-brother Brian and his family, and our cousin David who none of us had seen in years. My brother’s wife Amanda drove in the next day and all of us went through these uncertain hours together with a mixture of grace, panic, tears, snot, hope and faith.
One night my brother and sister and I sat in a hotel room and just talked for hours. I heard stories from their lives I had never heard and I felt so grateful for the time with those two amazing people.
We talked to Dad and told him we loved him. We told him all the things we needed to say. We prayed he could hear us. Then with more tests pending we returned home for a day and a half when we had to go back…to say goodbye.
These were the hours and moments I will never forget. I can’t write about them now and I am not sure I ever will be able to. Some of them were horrible. Some were sacred. Some were peaceful. All were sad.
Since then, March 6, when Dad took his last breath in the early hours of the morning, I have been grieving along with the rest of my family. Grief is hard to watch. Some people have turned to look the other way. That’s okay. I know it isn’t pretty. But some people stay right in there with you accepting whatever emotion washes over you. Those people are a true blessing.
I went back to work. Made it to Spring Break and have been busy preparing to go out of town for Dad’s memorial service. I had a full list of things to accomplish today and then- full stop. I sat on a chair unable to move. As an hour dragged by, I began to feel panic. My Dad is never, ever coming back. How can I do all the things? I didn’t even know where or how to start.
I picked up the phone and sent a text to my mom and she prayed for me. I prayed. Then I saw a way.
There was a pile of laundry on my bed. I would start there. I approached it…so much laundry! I decided to start with just the towels. Just fold the towels. I folded each one as neatly as I could and then picked one next thing- just one more and slowly, one thing at a time, refusing to think about all the things, I got most of what I needed to do done.
I think part of it is that when your world shifts so suddenly and so hard, it just doesn’t seem like laundry and errands should go on. I’m kinda pissed about that truth be told. I’ve been kinda pissed at God some moments too but I know He can handle my little temper tantrums. And the thing is, one of the last things I said to my Dad was, I don’t want you to go, but it is okay if you do, you taught us well and we will be okay.
So, I have to be okay. And I will be. But life will always be different and somedays I might not do anything but fold some towels.
That’s all I’ve got for today.
Fold one towel.
Thanks for reading and thank you for your prayers.