See, my mom died recently; well, it’s almost a year now.  She went to Heaven on May 17, 2007.  I really can’t believe it, even though I watched her through the dying process.  It’s like, other people’s moms die, not mine.  My mom and I talk about things like that, we don’t actually experience those losses.  Of course, I don’t honestly mean to imply that I am above losing a loved one to death.  In fact, I’d always, always worried about it.  But when it finally came to pass for me, when it became obvious that she was not going to get well but in fact, would die, I felt oddly…accepting about it all.  I did not anticipate that I would have endured her dying in the way that I did.  I wonder if it’s because I was no longer young; I turned 50 just a few days before she left us.  For sure, I did not think she would die at the tender age of 74, I really thought she had many years left in her.  Our relationship was still very much mother-daughter, complete with her telling me what-for if she felt like it and me feeling all offended by it.  It hadn’t yet shifted to my becoming concerned about her and gradually becoming a caregiving daughter as happens when one’s parents age.

So now I have my dear Daddy left.  And now I do worry about losing him.  I think, and even say out loud, “I don’t want you to die!”  A very good humored guy, he reassures me with such answers as, “I won’t, tonight.”  Or, “I’m ready to die.  But not until after the golf tournament.”

I know he really is ready for his own death.  Spiritually, he’s ready, he is a fervent believer in life everlasting, and has lived an outstanding Catholic life.  He and my mom did so, together. He’s getting older, his body is getting tired.  It’s all part of the natural process of aging.  Physically, emotionally, spiritually. He misses his wife deeply but accepts that her journey was completed with dignity.  And most importantly, that she really and truly is with the Lord.  

So now he’s living for the grandkids.  He lives his days fully and completely.  He spends time with each of his four children’s families and gives us all his attention and love when he is with us.  But I feel this undercurrent of worry:  when will he go?  will this be the last time I’ll see him?  how will I bear them both being dead?  Whenever he’s mentioned his own death (i.e. “I bought my funeral suit today.  I went to a friend’s funeral today and looked at him wearing a fifty-year-old suit and decided that I’ll just buy a new suit every five years…”  or, “I think this is the last pair of shoes I’ll ever buy…”) in either a serious, or trying-to-be-funny-you-know-there’s-a-grain-of-truth-in-it, I think, “I can’t bear it.”  I told him, “No Dad, I’m not ready to be an orphan.” Never mind that I’m fifty-one, I am not ready to be alone in the world without my mom and dad.  He says, “Well, I suppose one is never ready, but you will be okay.”

I’m choking up even thinking of it.  He is so vital, so sharp and intelligent and insightful and wise.  Yet his body is fading.  He’s visiting here now, and the oxygen machine he uses at night is humming away in our upstairs hallway.  I feel so secure when he is here with us, while simultaneously experiencing a sharp pang knowing he’s scheduled to go home next week. We live in Florida while he’s up in Michigan.

I know my mom would chide me about worrying into the future like this.  She certainly wasn’t one to borrow things in the future to feel anxious about.  I wish I would stop this but I keep coming back to the thought of him dying and how much I want to keep him here, on this Earth, with us…with me.  That’s selfish, though.  I know what his beliefs are.  He really understands what the Catholic faith teaches and he really does anticipate with joy being resurrected in eternal life.  It’s just that I will miss him so.  He and my mom will both be gone and I just think I won’t be able to bear it.  Of course, I will bear it.  I’m a mother too.  I suppose I sound like a child here.  I have three kids to whom I explain all this death/eternal life stuff to.  And it’s stuff I really do believe in myself.

I need to let go of this worry and enjoy my Dad as he is right now.  I guess that hardest part of losing my mother is looking at my Dad, without her.  Well, he has a family of adult children who love him, and grandkids who adore him.  He feels our love and admiration.  But his walk is his walk, his grief, his alone.  I grieve for my mom, I anticipate the sad day of his departure but I will be happy for him, I swear I will, because I know it will ultimately fulfill his deepest desire: to know the Lord Our God in the fullness of life.

I just don’t want my  Daddy to die.  I look at his sweet, aging face and it breaks my heart.  Selfish, immature, middle-aged woman who feels like a kid.  

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