I started this post talking about how weird I was feeling today, but not quite certain why. I knew I was feeling tired because of the long hours of work this week, the amped up workouts that leave me fatigued (but in a good way), and the private practice I have worked the last two weekends, despite having Cheese in town.
The post was long, slightly rambling, mostly complaining/not complaining about training, and then I almost hit send when it hit me. I knew what felt weird.
Today, it is cold, windy and snowing here. Perfect for a quite afternoon of chicken noodle soup, movies and a feather-down comforter with your boyfriend, who will be leaving tomorrow.
Today is just like it was four years ago - cold, windy, slightly snowing.
Only four years ago, there was no chicken soup or comforter that would have made anything better.
Four years ago tomorrow, my dad died.
My dad was only sick for six short months (lung cancer is like that - once its diagnosed, your sort of screwed). But for the first two years following his death, ever detail of those six months he was sick flooded me from May 16 to December 2. Two years of remembering every phone call, visitor, doctor's appointment, medication, casserole, hospice stay, trip up and down the stairs with the oxygen machine, meltdown in my bedroom when I thought no one could see, faked smile and positive words of comfort (from me to them), every prayer services.
My dad's cancer spanned, at least briefly, all four seasons. So for those first two years after he died, the changing of seasons brought with them those memories. The late springs brought back feelings of shock, frenzy, hope and despair - trying to learn all the terminology, typing out lists of questions before each appointment, getting different opinions, being questioned by his friends about whether I knew what I was doing or was I doing enough for him. My dad giving up one day, fighting the next. The band-aid he wore to cover the growing tumor on his forehead, the one we used to think was a pimple and for which I gave him acne cream. The tumor that never stopped growing. The book we kept by the phone to record the hundreds of messages. The button thing they put under his chest skin to put the chemo needle in, so they didn't have to ruin his arm veins. The period of time he walked around with one eye closed.
The summers reminded me of the times I would sunbathe in the yard while he napped upstairs, or the heat of the car as we sat at the McDonald's drive-through for his muffin breakfast after radiation (it was all he felt like eating). When I would come home from the grocery store and my dad would be "holding court" in the yard with his police friends, who came to see him, to be comforted by him, more than they could give him comfort. The blueberry muffins someone always brought every week. My dad's cup-of-soup he LOVED. In July.
The autumns brought with the a slight chill, the FBI jacket and Yankees hat he never took off, the smell of his hospice room and Panera dinners we would eat there during our all-night vigils, and the Thanksgiving he spent in his bed. Sitting on his bed and asking him for help planning his own funeral services. Who did he want as pall bearers? The morphine drops we put in his lip, the Harvard shirt he loved to wear. The day the hospital bed came. The day he stopped opening his eyes.
And then the early winters. Now. The cold, the snow. The sounds of him taking his last breathes. The feel of his skin, oddly warm, then not. Ellen, sobbing. The sight of the black body bag being wheeled from our house and all of us kids, standing on the front lawn, watching, sobbing. Then the flurry of arrangements, the anger of people being left out of said arrangements. Shopping for a funeral outfit and explaining to the dry cleaners that you needed his police uniform by the following day because he would be buried in it. The exhaustion. The thank-you cards. The brownies someone brought on the kitchen table. The friends.
Then finally - the silence of the house the day after he was buried. Devin laying in his bed, silent, staring, lost. Me laying next to her, lost myself. No one to care for, no visitor to entertain. My heart felt like it was punched. My eyes wanted to cry, my body wouldn't let them. His bed was cold, icy, empty. Silence. Gone.
As the years have passed, these memories have started to fade a bit, but writing them just now made them come flooding back. Sometimes I forget my dad died. I mean, I think about him in some form everyday, but not always in the past tense, cause I forget that he is not actually here. I mean, I think about him at times of big events, like weddings and graduations, or when I do something great and I want to call him to absorb his pride - those are the times it is more obvious. But daily, I guess sometimes I just think he's at work, or at home, and maybe I should stop by this weekend to say hi, pick up the mail, bring some chicken fingers.
Yesterday, I was running at the gym, and I thought about him at IM in April, then realized he wouldn't actually be there. It felt weird. In that second, I realized that I missed him. And since I don't remember he's dead, I don't miss him as much as I think I should. It just kinda feels like I haven't talked to him in a while, which wasn't so unusual when he was alive. But I missed him yesterday.
That feels weird to me.
Long enough for some distance, not nearly long enough to forget.
Do you ever?