Hello. After a hiatus of over sixteen months, I’m back again. It’s funny. I distinctly remember publishing that last post, back on July 19, 2015, before feeling like I needed a break. I felt a bit burned out and figured I’d take a week or two off from posting. But, a week turned into two weeks which turned into a month and then I was off on vacation. And then the bottom dropped out of my life. I always hate it when that happens. Only now am I returning to where I left off. As you might guess, there’s been a really good reason for my absence.
After spending a wonderful week with my family in Cape May, New Jersey, in August, 2015, we decided upon having a mini-vacation over Labor Day in Wells, Maine, one of our favorite vacation spots. Just as I was getting back in the swing of things – and about to start publishing more blog posts – something truly horrible happened.
My father died suddenly.
Sure, he was 87 years old and his health had been failing, but no one saw it coming. One day he was on oxygen and the next day he was dead.
On the morning he died, I remember dreaming about him and then I heard a phone ringing. At 4am. I woke up and I just knew. Without even answering the phone, I knew my father was dead. I’ll say this for my old man: he knew how to make an exit. He died on September 11, 2015.
No way in hell anyone is ever going to forget that. Or him.
I remember spending that day comforting family members and wondering why I couldn’t cry. Everyone was a mess and still, I couldn’t cry. I began to think there was something seriously wrong with me. I could watch a sappy movie and tear up – but my father drops dead and I don’t shed a single tear.
Many months later, I realized that I was probably in shock and dealing with the trauma the only way I knew how – as an attorney. I sealed off all the emotion in my heart and ruled with my head. Find all of the important documents and secure them. Make sure my mother is financially independent. Make funeral arrangements with my brother. Call family and friends. Step up and do the things that desperately needed to be done. Anything but face the reality of a massive, gaping hole having been punched in the middle of my life. Anything but that.
I guess I realized something was amiss when I had family and friends approach me repeatedly and ask me if I was okay. Sure, I’m fine, why do you ask? Well, because I was sleeping a lot more and going out a lot less. The quality of my work was off and I was starting to forget things. In retrospect, I guess my life was starting to unravel. I probably should’ve seen a psychiatrist or a therapist, but I chose to just muddle through.
And I discovered that if you cannot cry, your body will deal with the grief in other, weirder ways.
The hardest part was not knowing what would send me into paroxysms of overwhelming, inconsolable grief. I could take the pain – just so long as I could see it coming at me. Sneak attack pain is utterly unnerving. You begin to think you’re losing your mind. The weirdest damned things would cause me to weep like I’ve never weeped before in my life, as though buckets of water were pouring out of me.
Sometimes, it was a scent or a memory or a snippet of lyric or song or a line from a movie. One minute, I was fine. The next, I was a sobbing mess.
I must admit that I am proud of myself for “plowing through my grief” without resorting to drugs of any kind or therapists. In retrospect, maybe I was just being a stubborn male. I don’t know.
But my dad was right, righter than I could ever imagine in my wildest nightmares. Not long before he died, he knew what his death was going to do to his family. I remember him dwelling upon his inevitable death, still months away. He was his typical succinct self and got right to the point. He laughed and said “this is gonna hurt ya know”.
At first, I thought he meant the act of dying. Then, I realized what he meant.
And he was right.
I miss you, Dad.