Saturday, July 11, 2009

When the dance ends.

Nearly fifty years ago, a handsome young farmer with a sheepish smile and wavy hair asked a shy young woman to dance. They later fell in love, married and kept on dancing through life together. Last week however that dance came to an end, my Dad passed away. I never got the chance to say what I was building myself up to say, I was in town when I wrote the last post and when I returned home, he had just passed away two hours before I got there. I struggled with this for days, I had been with him since March and the minute I left, he passed. The first week I kept waking up in the night with the weight of knowing I will never see him again, plus the things I wanted to say to him that I never did or could not. I would be overcome with a feeling of being smothered or as if drowning. I spoke to my mother about it and since telling her, the feeling has not returned.

My Dad was very much a people person, he was not loud or did not seek attention, yet he had no problem with meeting people any place he would go. I envied that ability, I am the opposite, I find it hard to meet someone or even to talk to people that I do not know very well. The result was a beautiful service, people had to stand outside of the church since there was such a crowd and Dave said that was a tribute to the person he was. I felt I needed to give the eulogy, my family thought someone else should do it, they only know me as this shy quiet person and were afraid I would get up and cry or worse, pass out. I knew I could write one, I felt that other people did not know Dad as we knew him, I think having the blog to express my feelings gave me the courage and confidence to do it. Since I was not there as my mother and sister were to comfort him in his last hour, this was the best way to say good bye to him. It went well, some of the people who are really close to us, said it gave them chills with how it stirred images of my father in their minds, those kind comments have helped me over these last few days.

She cries at night, my mother that is and it breaks my heart whenever I hear her. Mom was raised that emotions are a private matter and must not be shared or shown, she holds strong for us during the day and in fact mom never cries. I never saw my mother really cry other than a few tears in her eyes until now, however at night I hear her soft sobs over the loss of Dad, her partner in life who has left her alone.

We will get through this, other people had to, it takes time I know. It feels like everything is just sitting there waiting for him, his tools, his old truck and his farm but he is not coming back, the dance has ended. Love you Dad, miss you....forever.


Joel A. said...

A beautiful tribute to your dad. You have my sincere condolences.

Every time I went up to my parents', I had PFLAG info buried deep in my suitcase just in case that would be the visit where I came out to them. It was there in my suitcase on the visit when my father died unexpectedly. One of the first things that crossed my mind at that moment was, "I never told him." And then it came to me, and was a comfort and relief, that he was now in a place where he knew without my having to tell him; that his understanding was now such that he was accepting of it with no misgivings created by society and religious teachings; that he could know that about me and still love me and understand me with no conflicting emotions. Yesterday would have been his birthday.

Give your mother a hug from me. And accept one for yourself.

Scott in Iowa said...

Steven - I'm so sorry to read of your loss. Though I haven't shared the same experience of losing a parent yet, I can't imagine having the courage that you had to give the eulogy at your father's funeral.
What a brave and courageous thing for you to do.

Take care and don't stop dancing.

Will said...

Steven, you have my admiration for your strength and fidelity to your father in his final weeks. I understand your upset at not being there at the moment of his passing, but very few parents have the steadfast presence you gave him in his final illness. He had you in ways parents rarely ever do.

He will always be with you and you with him. Bless you and your family at this time.

Birdie said...

Steven, he knows and he loves you. I have been told by someone who works in hospice care that it is not uncommon for people to wait until their loved ones are not there before they die. They feel they can't leave until no one is there to keep them earthbound. He is free.

Warm and gentle hugs for you, sweetheart.

Jess said...

What your mom is dealing with is difficult beyond words. My parents had one of those marriages--they were each other's best friend and thought each other was the greatest thing ever. So when my Dad died, my Mom was beyond devastated. But she managed to go on.

For a while, she really didn't want to go on, and that worried us, because she had a cancer history that we were afraid could easily make a return. It eventually did, but that was years later. Anyhow, my grandmother warned me at the time to watch my Mom and be there for her. She had just lost her son (this was my paternal grandmother who gave me this warning), but she said that, as terrible as it is to outlive your child, losing your spouse requires a much harder adjustment in your day-to-day life and, in a way, is a tougher blow. At least that's how she saw it, and she had seen a lot of losses over her long life.

My point is that your mom will get through it, but she'll need support. She may pretend she doesn't need it, but she needs it!

Of course, knowing you through this blog, I'm sure I don't need to say any of this. You're such a caring person, and you'd always be there for a loved one in their time of need.

One last thought: be sure to make time for yourself. You need to think, to cry, to get hugged, to heal. It takes a long time, but it's a road you must travel down. You owe it to yourself, and you owe it to your dad. Don't let regret at what you did or didn't say drag you down. He knew you better than you may imagine, and he loved you beyond measure. He wouldn't want you to be sad, and the only way he'd want you to move forward from his death is in a better direction. So honor his memory by taking care of yourself and eventually the pain will fade, so you can just enjoy good memories of him.

bigislandjeepguy said...

my condolences go out to you. i lost my mom so i know that feeling of losing a parent and the wave of emotions that come with it.

take time to do the things you need to do to clear your head and that bring you joy. they will be the things that get you thru this.

big alohas to you.

Matt said...

Steven, very beautifully written. I'm so sorry that you've lost your Dad. Know that we're all here whenever you need us. *hug*

Patrick said...

Dear Steven, I have nothing much to add to the sentiments others have expressed here, but I still wanted to tell you I am so sorry for your loss. I'm thinking of you and your family, and in the Quaker phrase that was such a comfort to me recently, I am 'holding all of you in the light.' I am glad you found relief from your feeling of missed opportunities with your dad, and that the conversation with your mom helped provide that relief.
Like Birdie, I had also heard that people often die when they're alone, it seems as if they have waited until everyone was out of the room before letting go. I'm so glad you spoke the eulogy, and found it a first step towards healing. We all have to find our own ways through grief, I am coming to learn. Everyone who has commented before me has given good advice, let me echo Jess in particular that you take care of yourself in all this, and maybe be willing to nudge your mother to express her feelings, even if she is resistant at first (though again, we all have to find our own ways through this...). Much love to you and your family, including Dave.

Wayne said...

Thinking of you Steven....

Topher said...

My condolences to you and your family.. Hugs

john said...

My sincere condolence go out to you and your family Steven.

This is beautifully written and a beautiful tribute to the man who is and always will be your father.

I know that he knows everything you felt about him.

Big hug for you.

Greg said...

Oh, Steven, I'm sharing tears with you today. Even knowing as we have done that it was coming, it's hard not to be sad about loosing those we love and I'm sorry for your pain.

I'm glad you had the strength and courage all to give the eulogy. I have no doubt it was a lovely tribute. He surely knows everything in your heart.

Wishing you peace and light.

Bill said...

I'm so sorry.
Your description of your dad sounds a lot like my own father.
I know it is hard. I wish I had perfect words for you. Just remember him and love him, and know that he loved you with all his heart.
I have a feeling that you are a lot like your dad. Gentle, quiet, and kind, but with an uncompromising sense of values. His legacy lives on in you, my friend.

Java said...

Oh, Steven, I just saw Birdie's blog. She mentioned that your dad had passed away. I'm so sorry. I wish all the peace and healing for you and your family now.

Birdie said...

Each day I check in here, each day I pray for you. My love to you and your family.