Friday, September 23, 2011

What Should I Say

I was talking to a friend the other day that had recently lost her mother. She kept saying, “It just feels weird, I can’t explain the feeling.”

I knew exactly what she was talking about. Sixteen years ago I lost my Dad. He was the hero you read about, the guy that stands up for injustice and believed in helping those less fortunate. He had a good time wherever he went and I felt pride when people would say, you look just like your mom but act just like your dad. He wasn’t perfect, he was human.

But when he died I remember walking around and the strangest feeling would come over me. Then one day I realized how it felt. It was as if something had been amputated. A limb had been snatched from somewhere deep in my being. I’d feel it there at brief moments, possibly like an amputee might still feel their missing appendage. But then it would be gone.

I tried to explain this feeling to my friend and a look of understanding crept across her face. “People,” she said, “kept telling me it was a blessing as Mother had Alzheimer’s. But losing her feels like anything but a blessing.”

Maybe it was because of all my years working at a Ronald McDonald type house. I sat with a Mother during organ donation procedure before taking her child off life support. I helped plan a funeral for an infant and sat with parents while we waited for oncology reports. People don’t want to hear, it was a blessing or that it was God’s plan. They want to hear that you’re sorry and understand, but mostly they want to tell you about their loved one, share experiences and memories.

So I sat with my friend as she reminisced. I told her you will always miss that part of your life. I talk to Dad every day, usually when I’m out in the yard or doing some home improvement activity. When I see something he would love, an incredible sunset or just beautiful wildflowers by the side of the road. It helps keep him in the special little place in my heart, tucked in safe and sound, protected from the pain. He’s my biggest fan and most brilliant critic. And he is always with me.

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