Yesterday was a tough day. Tougher than I expected it to be.
You see, on August 10, my family changed forever when my dad passed away in the evening. Having fought Alzheimer’s Disease for ten years, he had finally had enough. When they say someone dies peacefully, I think I know what that means. He took in one final breath, not as if to hold onto life but I imagine it more like surprise and joy in seeing what was ahead. Who knows what people really see the moment they die, but my dad’s faith was strong and sure and my faith is strong and sure. With all my heart, I know he’s already been dancing and singing and catching up with those that went before him. He remembers everything he had forgotten and even the things he never got to know.
When he died, many of us had already mourned his loss. The body of the man that lay there that evening was not of a man recently full of life and possibility. It was of a man who had become lost to us months and months before. His death had happened a long time before, and his body had finally caught up.
His funeral was all the things he would have loved…lots of family, many friends and a great party with everyone sharing stories and laughing at so many memories. His absence was profound, but not in the way of a sudden tragedy of a short life or unexpected end. In an almost acceptable sort of way.
So, back to yesterday.
We’re leaving for an extended vacation soon and we wanted to have a get together to celebrate our daughter’s 25th birthday as well as spend time with some of the family and friends we wouldn’t see in awhile.
Several had already arrived and the party was in full swing when I heard a small knock on our front door. We have an etched glass door and when I looked up, my heart saw my dad. White hair combed perfectly, looking just so and standing in exactly the right way. In that second, I had forgotten he was gone.
As quickly as the thought came, it was gone. My father-in-law was at the door, not my dad. My head knew that, but my heart had been so hopeful.
Dinner was great and the company was incredible. Every time we all get together, the amount of laughter is second only to the camaraderie. Kids, grandkids, parents, grandparents all had a blast! Even my mom. Even me.
Truth be told, though, it was a tough day. This was our first family gathering where my dad wasn’t there. Despite the fun, my sadness was right there where I could feel it. All my own memories from all those other yesterdays lingered just under the surface of my being.
I know the tough days will be there and I know they’ll be unexpected. What I didn’t know what how it would really feel; how my heart would ache on those days. I miss his silly smile and his wicked sense of humor. I even miss how we’d fight when I was a kid. I miss his very presence.
Yesterday was a tough day. Today is easier.