When your cell phone rings at 2:35 AM, you can be sure it’s a call you wish you didn’t have to take.
I marveled at how calm my mother managed to sound as she said, “Your father passed.”
I took some time to completely fall apart in the hotel room, with Karsten comforting me. It’s amazing how a hurt that has ached so much for so long is still able to hurt so much more.
After a bit, I dressed and drove over to my parents’ house, where my sister, my brother and his wife, and the hospice nurse all were. They were all in the bedroom with his body when I arrived, so I hesitantly went in. You know, it’s true what they say about how you can tell when life has left the body — it just lies there looking so empty, dull, and useless after the life is gone.
When the hospice nurse asked about whether we wanted him buried with his wedding ring (incidentally, no, my mom wants to keep it) and any other personal effects, my sister mentioned that the Livestrong bracelet he’s been wearing without removing for years now should stay with him. A few months ago, my Livestrong bracelet broke and I hadn’t wanted to replace it because I wanted to forget about cancer and death whenever I could. But at that moment, I knew that wearing his bracelet would mean so much more to me. My mom loved the idea, and my sister was initially hesitant until she thought of putting a new one on him before the wake. So she and I carefully took it from his wrist, and I’m wearing it now. She’s bringing a new one for him later today.
By 5:30 AM, the funeral directors had arrived to take Dad’s body away, and we’d spent enough time with it to feel ready to let it go. He wasn’t there anymore, anyway — the best of him has been leaving us for months, and the last of him had been gone for hours.
My sister went home to talk to her kids. My brother and his wife went home. I made the first calls to a designated contact on each side of the family. The hospice nurse finished her paperwork, disposed of Dad’s medications, and left. And my mom and I went to see if we could manage to eat some breakfast.
Everyone knows the cliche about how you always hear the worst possible music at a time like this, right? Can you guess? How about Rod Stewart’s cover of “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” playing in the restaurant while we’re struggling to eat? We were crying as quietly and discreetly as we could, and I pointed out how much I hate Rod Stewart, which made my mom laugh.
Anyway, that’s about the latest. I’ll post more later, I’m sure.