Sunday, April 5, 2020

Straight Lines

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
   –Lynn Ungar 3/11/20
My dad died a couple of weeks ago, on March 18th.

I wondered to myself about whether or not I would talk about it, whether I should share what was happening in my personal and most private parts of my heart. I worried about whether or not I should share my pain in writing for all, including my mother, to see.

The thing is: I don't really know what else to do.

He was struggling with his health for a long time, and the struggle became intense for all of us over the last few months. We hoped he would improve, but it became more and more apparent that the uphill battle was becoming a wall instead. And that was hard.

I flew home to be with him and my family the night before. People were already afraid, wearing masks and staying away from each other. I wasn't able to see him that night, as I'd arrived too late in the evening. The next day was a long, long day, with tiny glimpses of hope that diminished as quickly as they appeared. We took turns sitting with him, wearing full gowns and masks and face shields and gloves. I held his hand every moment I was with him. And when he went, we were all there with him, telling him that it was alright to rest, that we would be ok, that he was ok. We prayed together until he was gone.

For the record: he didn't have Covid-19. It was the flu. The flu kills the weak and vulnerable. It always has.

Then we did what my family always does: we carried on with the duties that needed to be performed. We arranged a small funeral for our nearest friends and relatives. We wrote eulogies and epitaphs. We did paperwork and filled in applications and went to the bank and sat on hold on the phone. I found the speech he read at our wedding in the inside pocket of the suit he brought for him. We went to the cemetery and put his ashes in a niche. We prayed together, talked together, and then went home.

We stayed together, watched tv together, ate together. We remembered stories and memories and talked about them. We went for walks when the weather permitted, staying well away from others.

And now I am back in my own home after sitting in near-empty airports and near-empty planes with a mask on my face. The neighbourhood is quiet. There are no children outside. My work is closed right now. And I don't know what happens now. I don't know how to express grief when everyone around me is already overwhelmed. The whole entire world changed and now I'm supposed to figure out how to live in it.

I sat down and made a list of things to do and wrote out a schedule for myself. "Get up. Get some exercise. Take a shower. Get dressed. Do some work." Because those are the things you do when you're living.

And yeah, I've been knitting... easy, straight lines of garter stitch in simple intarsia blocks.  It is simple and predictable. I don't know what this thing is, except I think it's nearly done:


And I suppose that could be said about everything right now: I don't know what any of this is, but sometime it will be finished. And I guess we'll see how it all turns out.

I hope you are all ok. Onwards we go.

5 comments:

yarnkettle said...

I have now wanted to intrude on your grief. Just know that I have been thinking of you and your family this whole time. I am happy you were able to be there. And happy to know you are safe at home. Please take all the time to grieve. All our love to you.

Su said...

I have no words, sorry. Just know that you did all that you could. Do whatever it takes to get through these next few weeks.
Lots of love
Su

Casey said...

I am so sorry for your loss, but happy you were able to be there, and with the rest of your family. Stay safe and well, and honestly, if you don't feel like doing the "schedule" things, don't. It can all wait. (That's what I found, anyway.) Hugs from afar and hang in there.

Marsha said...

I am so sorry to read this. I am glad to know that your family was together with your dad in those final moments. Figuring out a path through the grief is never easy, but you will find a way eventually. Take your time and take care of yourself.

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