I have become very intimate with death and dying. Besides my grandparents, who lived into their 90s, I sat at the bedside of my friend dying of cancer in 2002 when she was only 51. I held my sister’s hand while she gave ‘birth’ to her stillborn son, I comforted my children through the death of their 7 year old playmate, and dealt with the shock of the tragic death of my niece and nephew’s 33 year old father from a horrific car accident, just two short months ago.
And soon I will go and be at my Father’s bedside. I am looking forward to this precious time with my father and stepmother. It’s a time I knew had to come, eventually, though I am not entirely ready to say my “final” goodbyes (which really isn’t final, after all…). Of all the people whom I have lost, losing my father’s physical presence will be quite a different experience.
I will be using the 18 hour train ride to Colorado to prepare my heart and mind for the challenges of the next week. Despite the long distance, my dad and stepmother and I have been closer these past 15 years than I ever imagined possible when my mother managed to cut the link between us for 19 years. It killed me to not have my dad in my life, but as a child I had learned to bury my grief deep inside, lest I get punished by my mother. I remembered my dad the most at milestones, my graduation from high school, from college, and most profoundly the day of my wedding, when I ached to have him walk me down the aisle. But I knew I’d catch hell from my biological mother if I tried to contact him, let alone ask him to be there for my wedding day. I ached to have him see my daughters when they were each born, but at least by then he was able to see them in pictures.
I don’t know what will happen this next week, but I do look forward to these next few days and I say “yes” to the inevitable grieving process. And while I’m not particularly religious, I do believe that we will be tenderly held in the presence of Love and it will all be as it should be.
I listen to Mumford and Sons a lot, particularly lately. And this song is one that keeps me going when sometimes it’s hard to do so.