My dad died on February 6th (fuck, almost a month ago now). He was 68 years old, obsessed with health and fitness, still living big dreams and planning adventures. He died suddenly and unexpectedly and it was terrible. I haven't decided yet how much of the story I want to tell, and how much is mine to tell, but I woke up on that Tuesday facing a completely normal day and by that night I was driving, alone and tired and shell-shocked, to my waiting step-mother and my brother and sister-in-law six hours away. C and the kids joined us a few days later, and then my mom, my sister and nieces, and my half-brothers a couple days after that.
Those first few days are a blur. My brother and I stayed in a little no-name motel in town and spent almost every waking moment (of which there were many, since we found that sleep did not come easily) attending to the business of death. There were legal documents to find, arrangements to make, personal effects to track down. My step-mother was surrounded by the kindest, most wonderfully unexpected angels who made sure that she was never alone, never without someone to talk to.
That was a bright spot in an otherwise awful time; finding all of these incredible, wonderful human beings. People stepped up in small thoughtful ways and in huge, incredibly generous ways that made us all break down with gratitude. It was a testament to my dad that these people were so eager, willing, and ready to help us. I didn't know a lot of these people, but at his service, those were the biggest hugs and the sweetest words. People who knew my dad and loved him, who would miss him, who had heard all about me because, as his obituary said, he was an unabashedly proud father. And friends at home have been amazing too. I don’t have a lot of friends who’ve lost parents, and I never really know how to show my support. Flowers and casseroles always seemed so cliche but I’m telling you now, Bring flowers and a casserole. That meant so much to me.
The kids have been managing, as they do, in very different ways. Averson, in typical Averson style, is very matter-of-fact. "I miss Coach. I don't know why he had to die." Sydney, I find, is internalizing and somatizing a lot of her feelings. And sweet Eli. My poor kid. He and my dad were so close. One of my last texts from my dad is about how proud he was of Eli and how similar their childhoods are. My dad was his biggest cheerleader and they spent so much time together. It's the first loss Eli's really felt in his day-to-day life, and he's managing, but man it sucks. Me, I keep waiting for the crush of grief to hit me. I've had a couple of moments where the tears feel like they'll never stop, but for the most part it's been a numbness. That's the weird thing. I feel like I'm constantly reminding myself that he's gone, which is awful and surreal at the same time. A friend told me that it took her six months to stop picking up the phone to call her mom every day. That fits for me. I find myself filing things away that I want to tell him next time I talk to him, and then remembering.
I said that those first few days are a blur, but honestly, the last two weeks have been a blur. My brain doesn't work and I'm trying to be gentle with that. I have been so blessed by people who are kind, thoughtful, and understanding. C has been amazing, letting me function when I want to and then seamlessly picking up the slack when all I can manage is to put a show on Netflix.
I don't have a nice way to end this. It happened, and it sucks. It's really awful and all I can say when people ask how I am is "It's really fucking weird." I miss him so much, but I am also so so grateful that I'm not wracking my brain for our last moments together. I knew how much he loved me and he knew how much I loved him and that's something to be thankful for.