Some musings of mine...almost four years later...
Richard D. Smith 12/6/50-5/5/02
Such a simple four-letter word. But it’s meaning, it’s feeling, is so huge, so astronomical, that the mere word does not convey its depth.
The loss of my father was monumental, to say the least. I had never lost so someone so close to me (other than grandparents) and to lose my father, the man who, along with my mother, raised me, was like a blow to the gut that I was afraid I’d never recover from. Still, four years later, the wound has not healed completely. I constantly pick at it, wheedle away the scab, making it fresh and raw again. I don’t know if this is normal but it is how I cope. I’m so afraid of the memory of my father fading, like an insignificant photo of an unfamiliar relative. I’m so afraid I’ll forget the chocolate-brown of his eyes, the gentle crook of his “Smith nose” (I nose I have inherited), or the way his teeth showed when he smiled.
Memories of him are now all I can hold dear to me. I can never hug him again, smell his familiar Dad-smell, ask for advice, kiss his slightly wrinkled (like his work shirt) cheek or cry on his broad, always forgiving, shoulder. I can now only stare at his photo, see his handwriting on a piece of steno that I’ve saved, remember his dying words of advice to me, “April, just be nice to people.” and “I’m so proud of you.”. To think that this man gave a piece of himself to create me, gave up a portion of his life so that I may live, evokes such a feeling of pure and inexplicable awe in me. It’s such a vast, immeasurable concept. And to think his life was taken from him now that he had raised his children and finally had a chance to reclaim some of his time back—it seems so unfair, even to me now.
* * * *
Life. It extends before me and behind me, like an interminable road, unique unto me. The “pavement” that stretches before me twists and turns into the distance, and the unknown that lies ahead, shimmering in the afternoon sunlight, sends shivers dancing up and down my spine. Shivers of happiness for what is to come, as well as shivers of dread for what is to come. What did my father’s “road” look like to him, up until the point he was diagnosed and told his life was no longer in his own capable hands? Did he visual his road ending sharply--with a steep, deathly cliff? Or is it possible that he viewd his road branching off into a differnet, unchartered yet not necessarily unpleasant, direction?
Dad told me he had “made peace” with the fact that he was going to die.
But what does that really mean? And if he was so forgiving to make peace with his death, why couldn’t (or can’t) I? I am not the one who will never get to kiss his wife again, never get to eat an ice cream cone or read another book or feel the sunlight warm my cheeks. I am not the one who will never get to see his daughter buy her first home, on her own; never get to hold any future grandchildren.
I am the one who can continue easily (if slightly uncertainly) down my road of life, creating new memories and life as I go, so why I can’t I make peace with his passing?