On this day last year, Dad died. It wasn’t sudden, and it wasn’t unexpected. It was the inevitable culmination of several years of increasingly serious medical issues. Although my family and I had the opportunity to prepare, how could we have ever been prepared?
We live in an era in which everything seems permanently accessible and at our fingertips. Our digital lives are saved in the unfailing cloud to easily survive the march of new devices; files can be quickly backed up and duplicated on USB drives. Even when we want to get rid of information, it seems that with the right techie supporting you, you can recover anything. Or at least the Russians can.
But death is a reminder that despite all our technical wizardry, and despite our careful planning and responsible safeguards, we can’t save our most important assets. We can’t save ourselves. We can’t save each other.
Dad died, and he is gone. There is no battery to charge. There is no password reset to get him back. He was gone, and he is still gone, and he will always be gone. It is a hole in my sense of reality so profound that it is impossible to comprehend.
How can he be gone?
Dad taught me to fish.
Dad introduced me to the Steelers.
Dad sang with me in the car on the way to preschool.
Dad moved me to Florida… and back.
Dad went with me to adopt Hines.
Dad visited me to see Whoopi Goldberg at Colgate.
Dad contributed his most joyous smile to my wedding.
Dad learned to text, just to be able to stay in touch with me.
Dad lived his life for me, and for his family.
And though it isn’t fair to ask any more of him — he gave us everything — we still need him. I still need him. But death is just so damn permanent.
I know well-wishers will say that he is still here, in memories, and dreams, and me and my siblings, and in the legacy of the lives that he touched. But please don’t say that. I understand and appreciate the sentiment, and I’m sure I’ve said those things to those in grief before, but it isn’t true. He isn’t here. His tracks remain, and that’s some comfort, but it isn’t him. My memory of water does not quench my thirst. Why would my memory of Dad fill the hole I feel in my world every day?
This point in my post would be an ideal place to share a lesson I’ve learned from all of this. It would be wonderful to take a step back from my grief, look at it in some sort of greater context, and share with you what I’ve learned. That’s what would happen in a movie. This would be wrapped up in a sentimental bow, and we’d move on. But I can’t do that.
For now I still can’t step back and see the grief in a larger context. I can’t see past the hole.