Last year, I shared about the night my father passed away. I wrote about the day leading up to that difficult night and the emotions I felt upon hearing the news. This year, ten years after losing Dad, I want to say thank you to the people who surrounded me in the days and weeks that followed. I’m sure I thanked these people at the time, but it’s worth repeating after a decade of processing.
First off, my mother was a tremendous help. She had just had her gall bladder removed only a few days before Dad died. She was there for my sister and I throughout the funeral planning process. Mom and Dad had divorced several years earlier. So that, paired with the fact that she’d just had an organ surgically removed, meant that she really didn’t have to help out. But she did. She left the decisions up to April and me, but she facilitated the meetings with the appropriate people to make sure everything would go smoothly.
Next, my grandmother was beside us the whole way, too. This is Mom’s mom, BTdub. She helped us out financially before Dad’s insurance kicked in. I never knew that, before you even get the ball rolling on planning a funeral, you have to pay the cemetery a “grave opening/closing” fee. And it’s, like, $1,000. They won’t wait for insurance to cover that. It has to be paid up front. $1,000 for some guy to dig a six foot hole in the ground with a backhoe. What a racket.
Remember those college friends I wrote about way back here? They all drove in from all over the state to be there with me on at the funeral home for the evening of the viewing. When I got tired of meeting people and listening to condolences, they formed a protective barrier, effectively hiding me from everyone for a while.
Specifically, from that group of friends, I want to thank Brandon and Kara, who let me stay with them for about a week because I couldn’t face going back to Dad’s house to live without him there. And to Andy and Jeremy, for coming to stay there that first night and taking me to play some late night tennis just to get my mind off things.
To Hal, who was with Dad the moment he passed away, for singing at Dad’s funeral. To Darryl and Jake, for saying so many wonderful things at the service. To Elizabeth Gomez and Bryant Moxley, for driving in from Bluefield for the funeral, not because they knew Dad, but because they knew me. I know there are so many more that I’m neglecting to mention, and I hope they’re aware of how grateful I was, and still am.
I really can’t describe how I felt in those weeks following Dad’s death. I know I cried a great deal that first night. I know I expressed relief in the knowledge that he was in a better place and no longer suffering. But in the aftermath, I was mostly numb. I don’t remember feeling sad or happy or angry. I don’t remember feeling anything. For a long time, that’s all I felt. I just stayed busy. I pushed myself to get things done, because if I stopped, it all became real again. If I stopped, then it hit me that Dad was really gone.
I went through the motions for a long time. I don’t really remember when I started to actually experience life again, but I’m so grateful for that network of support that was there to pull me out of that funk.