Friday, February 23, 2007

Bad Day

I haven't mentioned this to a lot of people. Maybe I haven't mentioned it to anyone. What tomorrow is.

My dad died 10 years ago tomorrow.

It snuck up on me this year. I felt like I should recount the years. Has it really been 10? February 23rd, 1997.
Seems like ages ago.

I don't have anything planned. And it's not his Hebrew Yarzeit yet. That's next week. Tuesday after Purim. Not sure what I am doing for that either but I will have someone say Kaddish and maybe we will sponsor something at shul or give Tzedaka. There are "things" to do in Judaism to help deal with the loss. I don't know if it is really dealing with the loss anymore. More like keeping his memory alive. Or just remembering in general.

But I don't want to treat tomorrow like it is just another day. Because it's not. It's the day my life changed. My world came crashing down. That sounds dramatic. But it's true.
There have been many days in the past 10 years that I wondered if I would ever be happy again. Truly happy. I haven't asked myself that question in a couple years though. I know the answer now. I am happy. I have an amazing husband and an incredible son and a new baby on the way. It's nice to be happy.

So what do I do with a day like tomorrow? I can't act like I did when I was younger. Just close up and not do anything. Sit around and be sad. Even though that's what I want to do. I want to take the day off. From everything.
But I have to get up with Jonah and cook for Shabbas, run some errands, get some work done, do laundry. Just another day. Maybe I will be on strike. For a day.

Well, maybe that's why I am blogging. This is an outlet for me. A place where I can just type my feelings. They don't have to make sense. But it's also a way to let other people know what's going on in my life.

The hardest part is losing the memories. I don't remember the things I used to. Every year I feel like I lose more. And I wonder - when Jonah is old enough to ask about my dad, will I have anything left to tell him? I don't have a lot of pictures. My dad was the photographer so he was always taking pics not being in them. We have very few of him. I've got a "box of memories". Random things I saved after he died. Things we found in his dresser drawer. He used to take the change that would accumulate in his pocket and put it in a little glass bowl. I have the change from that bowl. I imagine him emptying out his pocket for the last time before he ended up in the hospital. He lived for another month after that stay in the hospital. But he certainly never emptied out any more change from his pockets. I have some old eyeglasses of his. And an old drivers license. I think I may have his wallet. Just miscellaneous stuff. But that's tangible.
Memories aren't tangible. And it's hard to hold on to them. The strongest memories I have are from when he was sick. And when he died. Maybe because those are the most recent. Or maybe because those are the ones I consciously held on to. I knew that I wouldn't have him around much longer. So I had to engrave those memories into my head.

I don't think I will ever lose the memory of when he told us The News. The final news. It's not the actual memory that I remember so well. But it's my thoughts I had at the time. I don't think I will forget what I was thinking.
My brother and I were in his hospital room. My brother was sitting on a chair and I was sitting on the ledge near the window. My dad called that room his "winter chalet" because the view was of some woods and they were all covered in a beautiful snow. I even remember I was sitting on the vent because it kept blowing air. But it was cool air because I kept pressing my hand against the vent and then against my face. My face felt like it was burning up.
I don't remember the exact words he used. Isn't that weird? The worst thing I had ever heard in my life and I don't remember the words.
He told us that the doctors didn't give him much time left. That there was nothing more they could do. The cancer was spreading. It had spread to his liver and eventually his liver will just shut down. And so will he.

I remember that we were interrupted by a nurse. She came in to see how my father was feeling. He told her he was doing better and he thinks he was just sick before as an emotional reaction to the news. I remember thinking that was strange. My dad getting sick. Of course, he is sitting there with cancer but I thought it was strange because he was so calm in telling us. It was weird thinking of him getting emotional when we weren't there.
But what other reaction would someone have when hearing they will die.
She left and he kept talking to us. But there wasn't much to say.
I remember sitting there, looking out the window. With the tears running down my face. I didn't know what to say. Part of me just wanted to curl up next to him and cry. Just hold onto him and never ever let him go. But I didn't. I remember that I wanted my brother to talk to him and work things out. Sometimes they had a rocky relationship and I just wanted everything to be ok.
I think I saw that he was crying. And that struck me also. It made it more real to me. If Adrian is crying, it has to be true.
And I remember thinking it's not fair. It's not fair that my dad has to sit there and tell his children that he is going to die. That is WRONG!! How does a person do that? How do you find the strength?
It's just wrong. It's not fair.
After we left the room, I think he was going to tell my mom or maybe someone else. My aunt? We were in the waiting room. And a rabbi from my elementary school came by to visit. I felt bad. He had no idea that it wasn't a good time. I don't even remember what we said. I was just numb. He left his business card (he is also a moyel) and said to call if/when we need anything. It was a nice gesture but I remember thinking - how can he just go about his regular life when my dad is lying there dying???
That was a common thought throughout the experiance. How does the world go on? Don't they know what's happening???????

That's enough for now...........
Sorry no upbeat messages this year.
Not tonight at least.

But it's ok to be sad. It's healthy to be sad.

I'm sad.


2R said...

I don't think you'll have any problems expressing to Jonah and little almost baby the love that you have for your dad and what he means to you.

Good luck with today, we love you.

Rolling hills of green said...

I called my mom recently and asked her more questions about my grandfather, she had no problem telling me memories and i grew up with her memories of him and he is still real to me. I'm sure your kids will love the memories you can share with them.

Veev said...

Sorry, Nat. If I had read this last week when you wrote it, I'd have called you right away. You are a very honest writer. And you will be able to give over to your kids whatever amazing things your father gave you. We have the utmost confidence in you, and we love you, Sista!

Marie said...

Shalom, I was googling something about Purim and I came across what you wrote about your dad. My heart sank reading what you wrote, on how you ache for your cherished dad.
My dad was one of those 'distant' ones that mostly kept his emotions to himself. He had cancer too, but he survived it. We ended up growing closer because of it, I think we just both realized how fast life can and does change. As I contemplated your soul spilled words on how hard it is to lose a parent, I realized that if my dad did not make it, I know he would not want me to hurt so deeply. But also, that he would understand on why it would hurt so much. I know mere words can not remove your sorrow. I know there is a healing process we must go through to begin again. I just wanted to encourage you, if even in the smallest possible way. I Pray for you to find strength in Hashem and I am very sorry for your loss. Marie

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