Monday, April 21, 2008

Peace for the weary

Well, my father passed away at 9:39 this morning: April 20th, 2008. While it's been a hard couple of weeks with many many tears and a chest weighted with pain, I am doing ok and very relieved and happy for my dad. I led myself to believe all day that my father was in fact wrapping his warmth, love and security around all of us and telling us that he is in a good place, that he is ok. That sun shined down warm and strong with a gentle breeze. Many times I closed my eyes today and raised my face up to the sun and breathed it in, and felt engulfed with love.

I have met a certain peace as has he. There were mumblings among the family members that yesterday there was rain or as the mumblings went, my fathers tears. For all his suffering and inability to say his words to us, it was very hard not to believe that that rain was his tears touching upon us in some way.

Tonight we sat at his and mom's house and looked through pictures and every once in awhile I would look up and seek out his scent, his voice, his breathing and realize that it wasn't there Then I would hang my head and reflect on the last couple of weeks, all the few but very special moments I shared with my dad and blink my tears back and continue on looking at old photos of him in preparation for his new journey in life.

I may very well be in denial at this point but I feel so free, not for me but for him. The last 3 days with him were very painful to see. I hope I didn't make the mistake of not allowing my 9-year old little guy not to see him. I just didn't want him to remember his grandpa that way. The last time he saw his grandpa in the hospital last week, he got the usual, 'how's my Bug-Man', a hug and some small talk. That was only a few days before, none of that was there. My son cried hard when he saw me tonight and buried his face in my shoulder. This little boy never shows me that kind of affection and acts a lot like his grandpa...tall and strong. It just broke my heart to see him so upset and made me question my decisions with all of this. But then I thought about it and thought that his grandpa wouldn't have wanted his little Bug-Man to see him in such a state either. Nor would my father have allowed us in that room if he could have willed the strength to tell us to get the hell out of there.

My dad was a strong man. It's strange talking in the past tense like this. To me he is and always will be a strong man. Not in physical but in mental and emotional. He fought hard, met many hurdles in this life, with all his health issues, conquered some but then lost others and in the end, even though things were happening to him that were not in his control, there was a moment with him that I will never forget.

My brother in Kosovo. It was devastating and surreal to have to get that ball rolling so he could get home in time. The itinerary came in via his wife and I was to deliver this news to our father on Saturday. I tried once but I don't think he heard me as he was focusing too much on other things. I was a little sad by this because whenever my brother's name was mentioned before it always seemed to perk him up. When it didn't....

After a major struggle last night and then the calm after the storm, it was at that time that we said a rosary with him and mom. After that, some special time alone with him before we headed off to bed would be granted to all of us by each other. After awhile I came to see if there was anyone by his bedside. For the first time in 2-weeks, there was no one. He looked so alone and it pained me to see him all alone. I wasn't really ready to say what needed to be said but I forced myself in there.

I spoke to him, said some words. I'm not sure if he heard me or not but continued on because I knew I had to say some things to him. In the midst of it all, I spoke my brother's name. My father responded with the quietest 'yes'. I told him my brother would be arriving on Monday/tomorrow (it was 4:00am this morning). I told him the time, that my brother couldn't wait to see him--he responded 'yes' again and his bottom lip came up...he was trying to speak but was too weak, but man he tried so hard. I told him that it was ok, I understood and he didn't need to waste his energy. I told him that my brother loves him, that my brother's wife loves him...after this, I was quiet and kissed him. Then I began to speak a little more...asked him a yes/no question...there was no response. He had gone back to resting.

I was glad that he heard me, glad that he knew his 'guardian angel' was on his way. Having our brother away has been very hard, talking with his wife has brought so many tears and emotions, text messaging my brother, the pain that has been felt for my brother and his wife has been indescribable. Even now.

My brother boarded his plane at 9:00am this morning our time. When that plane lifted off the ground, I do not know. I will forever believe that my father felt that his son was on his way, that he knew his son was coming home for him. People say that others wait for a special thing before they leave this life. Brother, you are it.

I ache for you but at the same time the love that I saw coming from our father for you is beyond words. A picture of my brother and a picture of my father's dog hung in his hospital room for most of my father's hospital stay. The pride my father would exude when asked who the 'handsome' soldier was that looks just like my dad's reply was always...that's my son, my Guardian Angel. Those two pictures were my dad's guardian angels watching over him. Even now it makes me feel warm inside to write those words.

In the end, I know that sadness will linger deep inside for awhile. But I also know that eventually, time heals all wounds. As I said above, I am relieved for my dad but selfishly sad for myself and my family here in this house. The memories will be forever though and soon enough those memories will be talked about for the rest of my life.

You are so very loved Dad, so very special. May you now rest peacefully. I will forever love you....

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