In Mourning For My Father.

It has been one year since you died. Yet, it seems as though time has stopped. The sun sets and it rises each day. The moon glows at night. For me, I seem to be stuck somewhere, a year ago, that weekend, that morning. Life goes on about and around me. You are missing. The gigantic presence you had ( for such a small German man) is no more. At least not earthly. I search for you, still. I am sure I always will. I am in mourning. This is what it feels like.

I had made you a Christmas shirt and filled a stocking with your favorite German candy. I had planned to come visit you and mom in the nursing home for Christmas. Instead, I saw you for the last time, in a hospital bed fighting off the infection that finally claimed your life. You were hooked up to tubes and wires, and you couldn’t speak. I whispered in your ear how much I loved you. I know you heard me. The family made the difficult decision to switch you to hospice care. A little over 24 hrs later you were gone. Freed from your earthly chains.While I am grateful for the first time in over 40 yrs you were pain free, I am forever hurting. An ever present aching in my heart and bones. I have hours and days of pure joy and happiness, but you are always there. This is constant mourning.

In some ways, a lot of ways, I lost mom that day too. The pandemic came right after your passing, (seems fitting) and changed Everything. Especially how and when I can see mom. I only can “see” her now via video chat with the help of her memory care activity director. I can’t just go visit her, I can’t make Christmas cookies with her this year, like I have for decades. Leaving slightly burned, unfrosted ones for you dad. I can’t bring her Christmas gifts or go to plays or dinner with her. So yes, in many ways I lost her too. However, I know she is safe and well cared for, and I know that makes you happy. She mentions you dad, when we do speak. She cries, gently. Her memory may be fading, requiring full time care, but she Knows she is missing you, and that she loved you. She may not understand, but she is mourning too dad. Last week when I spoke with her, she said ” I know your dad isn’t here anymore, but he came and told me his soul is.” And that was probably the most beautiful thing I have heard this year.

You have missed so much this year, dad. Most of it, I thank God everyday that you have. Still there have been things I so wish you could’ve been here for. Engagements, graduations, new jobs etc., but I believe somehow you do see it. The holidays were your favorite time of year. Last year, I was numb at your passing right at Christmas time, most of it is a blur. This year we are restricted to what we can and can’t do. I know you wouldn’t have liked it. You used to love people coming over for Christmas, or going by your kids. You loved surprising mom with gifts she didn’t know you bought her. Like the jacket you brought over to my house many years ago to wrap for her, to open Christmas morning. You loved decorating the outside of the house with lights and a cute penguin statue donning a hat and scarf. You loved watching gospel singers sing their Christmas songs. You dressed up as Santa for local parties. I am struggling this year, dad, trying to feel Christmas. Because of everything. Yet, Christmas always finds me, as I am sure it will this year, with help from you.

For a while now, I have been seeking out cardinals. Everyone says it means a visitor from heaven. Barb is getting cardinals , a couple even, by her. I put out the seed to attract them, and nothing. Nothing except for this blue jay, who makes a ruckus with his loud call. Like a horn. I can spot it a mile away it seems. Last week at work I could hear his unique call. I went outside to look and saw high in a tree, a hawk, perched on a branch, and a blue jay giving him a piece of his mind. Then more came to join in. I could see they must’ve been protecting a nest. I stood in awe and watched this blue jay make the hawk leave. It brought me back to the feeling I always had of protection from you. I felt safe when you were in the room.This morning at work, I could hear the blue jay, loudly speaking across the street. And then I remembered, Billy Blue Jay. How you always called for him, and left food out for him. I stood at the salon door, looking out the window, as Billy just sat there, on a wire. I whispered “I see you dad.” and he flew away. Maybe, for me, I won’t see Cardinals, maybe you will visit me in different less obvious ways. I have some of yours and moms things here, in storage for safe keeping. And I remembered, you had a stuffed blue jay. I searched through a few boxes, and I found him. I found your Billy the Blue Jay. Just like I know if I keep searching, I will “see” you in places or things I wouldn’t expect to. And maybe, that is what constant mourning is. Seeing or hearing or feeling you, when I least expect it. Where the grief swells up like a tidal wave, and eventually bursts, into a sea of tears. Only to repeat. Forever. If so, that is ok. Because you will still be here. In Trauer Um, Meinen Vater. Until we meet again.