Just spent a few hours at dinner with 2 girlfriends talking about the surreal events surrounding the deaths of our fathers. All 3 of us were pretty close to our dads and loved them deeply - no abuse, no neglect, no major issues. I don't hate men or myself because my father didn't love me enough. Rather, I think I'm sort of shocked when men in their 30's don't have the decency and respect for women that my father had...but enough about that, another entry surely.
Anyway, the 3 of us told our stories about those crazy, weird days after death. My father died while on vacation in another country. He left us fine, then got sick, had surgery, improved, tanked, improved, then coded and started "circling the drain". I remember my brother called at 4am and said it didn't look good. I called my sisters and other brother and then got back in bed. It was 4 o'clock in the morning, what else could I do? I started to pray but couldn't really think how to finish all those go to prayers for Catholics - my Hail Marys fizzled out at the "Lord is with thee...", the Our Father seemed so long. I couldn't concentrate, I couldn't even really think, so I resorted to "please, please, please." I'm not sure what I was begging for, I knew even then that my father wouldn't live through the day. I just knew....this is it. And so it was.
Eventually, I got out of bed, went to the kitchen, put the kettle on. When in doubt we Irish make tea. It gives you something to wait for - a kettle to boil, a bag to steep, a cup to empty. I guess it's like smoking, it gives you something to do while your brain stops or churns or meanders. Then I started the calls in earnest. I called everyone - my friends, my family, my dad's friends. I thought: who will be awake this early? Who needs to know first? Who needs to hear it from one of us and not second hand? I think what surprised me most about those phone calls were 2 things. 1) the people I broke down with. 2)how simple it was to say what had to be said. I used the simplest words - it looks like dad isn't going to make it. As long as no one asked too many questions or made too many comments I was fine. Trying to explain more beyond "he's dying" left me listless and confused. I got used to saying the words - he's dying - I had to do it, so I did. But honestly, I'd have never thought that telling my cousin Terese would make me completely break into hysterics. I sobbed so much that I had to hang up and call her again 2 or 3 times. I kept starting over and kept sobbing hysterically. When she called to say we (her parents and siblings) are on are way, we're coming there, we'll be there in 2 hours, I could not physically hold my head up, I just started to sob again. It was crazy. Surreal.
And so went the week until the funeral. Do you know what that's like, to walk through a week and feel as if you are floating above it? Not just above yourself , but above the whole world, above time itself?
All 3 of us - my friends from dinner - commented on the weird feeling of being on display. I know I felt as if I was being watched by people, that some people who came to the house or showed up at the wake wanted a reaction. I was supposed to cry for them, supposed to break down. I was certainly not supposed to hold it together. Thank God for sunglasses. They provided that extra layer of privacy, they were like a shield over my grieving.
It's funny, too, the people who you don't always expect to come through are the ones that save you, the ones who carry you through a day or week or year of pain. But it's late now and almost time for bed.