Wednesday, May 03, 2023

The Tenth Anniversary of My Father's Death

"How we deal with death is at least as important as how we deal with life." –James T. Kirk

I woke up at some point between midnight and 7am this morning. And, for several moments, I simply did not know where I was. I did not look at the clock -- or, at least, I don't recall seeing it or recognizing the time -- but I wonder how close that moment was to 3:07am. It would not have been the first time on this particular anniversary that I was stirred to something resembling wakefulness between the hours 3 and 4am.

Ten years ago today, at 3:07am on 5/3/2013, Dad crossed over.

The photo for this post was the morning sky that greeted me that morning as I left Johnstown around 6am and drove my mother to her empty house. The Sun was just kissing the sky over Route 56, Johnstown Expressway. Of course the Sun would rise and show me a way out of the dark valley of the past few days. Of course. How perfectly normal, yet bittersweetly beautiful, of a way to enter this next phase of my life, that of a fatherless son.

Dad had still been with us when I went to my hotel room shortly after midnight. That was about 8 or 9 hours after the ventilator had been removed. Over eight hours. He truly was one of the toughest men I've ever known.

Around midnight, Sis had already driven to her home, and Mom was falling asleep. She would end up sleeping in Dad's hospital room. And so, in the quiet and stillness, and nearly alone, Dad crossed over at 3:07am on 5/3/2013. Of course, he waited to slip away in a private moment. He had reached his birth month, but was nearly three weeks shy of his 67th birthday.

In 2020, Facebook told me this was my most-liked photo of 2013. That's kind of difficult for me to believe unless FB's algorithm factors in shares and other uses over time. But, hey, whatever algorithm. It's just another way the magic of social media technologies invite me to reflect. Memories, On This Day, and other features collaborate to remind me of the inevitability of loss.

And, of course, each year I re-share or re-purpose these memories, ensuring that I will have brand new versions of the same memories in years to come. It is now well-established as an arc within my own personal liturgical calendar. This date marks the end of the first two acts of that liturgy: illness and death. The next act: the continuing goodbye.

Why do I re-engage with this liturgy so regularly? It is a reminder to myself -- as much as to anyone else who might need it -- that each passing year after a loss does indeed lighten the load of grief, but also that the years do nothing for the pain and the tears. In fact, I might have paused in editing this post to deal with a few new tears.

And I would not have it any other way. For on the day I no longer feel anything for this loss, I will have become something less than human. In a November 2021 appearance, Andrew Garfield said that tears are "all the unexpressed love, the grief that will remain with us until we pass because we never get enough time with each other."

That tracks. We never get enough time with each other.

#memories #GoodbyeDad #StillSayingGoodbye #TenYearsLater 

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