I knew to dread Christmas. Because obviously, Mom and my first Christmas without Dad would be hard. My body created a buffer of sorts: I was sick in bed with bronchitis for three days beginning Christmas Eve, leaving Mom to fend for herself. I was so ill I couldn’t even feel guilty until later.
I anticipated that the month of February would be painful between Valentine’s Day and Mom’s birthday. Dad was a romantic who enjoyed planning surprises for his wife and took pride in his gift giving.
I had no idea how painful my birthday would be. The first October 16 without Dad in this world, how it hurt. I was heartbroken all over again.
And now Father’s Day and the rapidly approaching saddest anniversary of all, July 17. How have we lived for almost a year without this man?
Last year at this time, life, frankly, was terrible. Mom and I were making circuits between Scranton and NYC and Dad’s Philadelphia hospital. We were stressed about treatments that didn’t go as planned, Philly hotel prices, our jobs and Dad’s mounting unhappiness. The three of us had lived with joy for most of our family life and suddenly there was none.
The pain doesn’t end when a loved one’s suffering does. My mother is reminded of her loss daily, weekly, monthly, always. Daily when someone says a kind word about Dad–and it happens every single day. Weekly when she arrives home from golf league and Dad isn’t there to ask how she played. Monthly on the 17th.
My pain comes in waves, some predictable, others not. I am still waiting for the memories of ICU and hospice to be replaced with thoughts of our many, happier times together. Someday I hope this peace will come. I’m not there yet.