On the passing of my father…

There are too many feelings and too few words. After two weeks, the tumultuous sea is subsiding. I’m gaining some peace with what has happened and integrating the notion that I will not see my dad again on this earth. Maybe it’s time to write about it…

I flew into Detroit and was able to spend a few hours with him before his operation. Not knowing that those were our last moments together, I would have wished for them to have gone differently. Less logistics more love.

At least the things I would have said, were not unsaid. Just not said in those final moments. I’m grateful for my close relationship with my father and that my youthful distancing of myself had ended and come full circle to acceptance and love.

9:03pm on 3/31/2006: “I’m sorry to inform you that Mr. Brock has passed. Around 7:00 at the beginning of my shift his heart failed. …(then I couldn’t quite hear their words any more over a buzzing in my head)… You can come see him whenever you’re ready.”

Uncertainty. Is this real? This empty, pale body on the bed. Face slack and going cold. What now?

Denial. Sit up, Dad! Breathe again. Make yourself whole. I’ll help. It isn’t time for this. We’re not done yet!

Despair. Wracking sobs. Empty pleas. Trying to sing him his favorite hymn. Is there nothing left?

Guilt. There is more I should have done… more I could have done. What are these strange thoughts of accepting it? It can’t be right! Surely, I’m justifying it to myself and that simply can’t be… not yet.

Anger. Someone is responsible for these multiple medical-acquired infections that slowly ate away at him… for the treatments that sapped his strength and will. For allowing him to die “alone” while I was there in the building. For not notifying me for two hours.

Grief. What is that emptiness? That place ripped out of my heart? Out of my life? So much if his life unfinished. So much more life to live… His gentle, generous soul. Gone. gone.

Responsibility. Someone has to sign the papers, make the arrangements, schedule the service, manage the details, notify family/friends/colleagues, get his taxes paid, find his papers, bring sanity to my sister, pay her rent…

Sadness. Days of sharing the news with so many people, and so many calling me to share their condolences. So many friends, colleagues and loved ones… having to experience the impact of the news in their eyes and their voices again and again and again. Re-living the loss. Staying in his apartment. Constant reminders. The suitcases he never got to unpack. The home he never really got to live in. The get well cards he never read.

Integration. Something about that process of communicating with so many people… Now I can share it without sobs. Feel it, but still breathe. Speak of it with only a few tender tears. Certain things are still the hardest… That his service is scheduled on the day that he was to be inducted into the hall of fame for his work and influence in his field. He so wanted to be there.

Duty. Gather his tax info, sort his papers and things, open two months of mail, liquidate retirement funds to pay taxes and bills, set up new accounts, meet with his tax accountant, organize the service, arrange for speakers, create “memory boards” full of photos, print programs, shake hands, speak with others about our losses.

Disorientation. I returned to Colorado. But this is just some life masquerading as my life. Everything looks the same, yet is different. My housemates and friends worry about me and don’t know what to say. My affairs are on a strange sort of hold. I have to make public appearances and speak at events. For moments it is gone. In moments it is back.

What’s next? I don’t know. I return to Detroit in a couple days to pack up his apartment and try to settle his affairs. There are still people for me to meet with. Arrangements to be made. I don’t know what happens next. When or if my life will seem “normal” again. A strange, disquieting guilt seems to follow the moments where I feel like I am fully at peace about it.

I can say that there are things I’m grateful for: I’m glad I went down and spent time with him in the hospital in Florida weeks earlier. That we got to have deep, engaging and soulful conversation there. That we spoke regularly. That he was so proud of me and the strange things that I do with my life. That he knew I loved and appreciated him.

It also makes me want to be sure to let those I cherish know it. More often. More deeply.

Originally blogged on my MySpace profile