Tomorrow is Monday. For most people, it will be just another work week starting. But for me, it is the worst anniversary: two years since we lost Dad.
July 17 used to be just another summer day, but now it looms like an exam I didn’t study for or a long, painful dental appointment.
As this summer approached, I didn’t think about lounging by the pool or trips to the beach. Instead I thought “was Dad in the hospital by now two years ago?” Anxiety festered inside me as I tried to decide how I should observe the day. I worried “what if I missed the anniversary completely? What if I forgot?”
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. Continue reading →
I am sitting with my arms around her in a gesture meant to comfort, but it’s a perfunctory effort. My arms may as well be made of wood, and my heart, of stone.
It’s February and we are in Florida, attempting to celebrate my mother’s first birthday without Dad. Mom is raw and unsteady. As brittle and delicate as a fallen leaf. When I arrive at the airport, I hug her and try to find the right thing to say. Saying the wrong thing, even a sincere “how are you?” brings her to tears some days. But my own eyes stay dry.
I had never thought to make a list of questions I don’t want to be asked in the presence of my mother. That is, not until my mother took me to a hometown ER for the first time in my adult life this past Saturday.
Upon my arrival in triage, the ER nurse spoke.
“What is your weight? Please step on the scale.”
WEIGHED IN FRONT OF MY MOTHER? THANKS DUDE-NURSE.
I wobbled in that direction–partly from illness, mostly from dread. I had been sick for about three days, but unfortunately my appetite for Christmas cookies was unaffected. My weight, a number carefully hidden from Mom, would soon be revealed. Continue reading →
Remembering the money I spent last Christmas on gifts for Dad at that same market, I asked “think I can get my money back?” before mumbling “gallows humor.”
It probably wasn’t funny to my friends and if anything, I might have made them uncomfortable. Fortunately the subject was changed for us as the hordes of Christmas shoppers pushed us through the market like leaves floating in a strong current.
Briefly separated, I was left thinking about how different this Christmas will be without my sweet Dad.
Last Christmas, I went to one of Dad’s doctor’s appointments with him and my mother. He seemed to be doing well and proudly posed in front of a hospital sign featuring his terrific specialist. Dad’s breathing was pretty good and he was able to walk longer distances than he had in recent history. I was thrilled.