Author of Breasts Don't Lie

Archive for the ‘Mourning my father’s death’ Category

Ungraceful, Loud, and Grateful

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Right now is a weird time for me. I’m in a new location, Texas with the cows, really huge horned cows, without access to friends in town, trying, really trying to make some friends here but my people are harder to find now I’m older, and my father died. After two weeks in ICU, we decided to let him go. His death was easy. A whisper of breath, a silence of the machines, the falling into himself that was disastrously elusive in his life. I was grateful for the mercy.

Coming home has been not so graceful, not so grateful, to end up – not so quiet – as I hoped.

I have been loud. Effectively loud. BECAUSE. The doctor, hospital, and funeral home could not coordinate the death certificate. 

“Yes, he died,” I told everyone. 

“I was there when the machines stopped. A doctor stopped by and declared him dead. What, you can’t find the doctor? Did he die too?”

“What do you mean – it’s been two weeks. Dad’s dead. Where’s his body? Where’s the paperwork?” 

Yep. I started out professionally cool, then curt, throwing around some of my degrees and threatening with the barrister cousin, days later I became loud, yelling under my breath and finally, into the phone. By some mysterious power, and no one will tell me what kind of power, my father’s body made its way to the crematorium. I need to see my hairdresser for the extra grey hairs.

The yelling continued; upon my return to North, North Dallas, I found out that my classes had been canceled or I had been replaced. Yes, that lovely national organization, espousing religious values, gave my class, the one I trained for over two months without pay, to another teacher while I was away tending to my family. They didn’t tell me. I had to write an email and wait for their response. A pox on them. I mean frogs, boils, and locusts on their facility.

(Truthfully, I expected to stumble with the class initially; I had been upfront with my supervisor telling her of my inexperience but a willingness to train. Still, a pox on them.)

With all this distress, I have restarted watching horror movies. Finished with the big shark extravaganza, I watch vampire movies in the afternoons. I don’t know why it helps, but it does. Perhaps bloodsuckers, like the sharks, have some profound, blocked message about grief or suggest a clue about my internal state. I don’t know yet – stay tuned.

The panic attacks at night come and go. Nightmares, full of people I love attacked by a faceless murderer, rouse me out of sleep multiple times a night. This rite of passage, being without parents in a chaotic and alienating time, emphasizes how alone I am in this world and the importance of connections. Some days, I enjoy the revolting troll stalking me on Facebook and my blog. Easy enough to block her and report her to the authorities. Should I send her a thank you note for the opportunity to feel powerful? A pox on her, wait, someone already poxed her!

So, let’s all get connected. Maybe not gracefully or quietly but gratefully. Sending lots of love to my friends and supporters. Say hi below! And send job leads …

(Image courtesy of morguefile.com. Thank you.)

Teething: Fractured Grief

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I restarted grinding my teeth at night. Like I did after Rod died. For years until my dentist started talking to me about a bite guard. A bite guard! I had visions of pimples and acne cream and headgear out of an 80s John Hughes movie.

But it wasn’t until years later that I took the dentist’s advice seriously and hustled down to the neighborhood CVS for a two-pack of bite guards figuring I would ‘boil and bite’ myself into a decent fit by the second try. The cat used the mangled first attempt as a toy, tossing it into the air and catching it in her mouth. I was impressed. Some serious chompers on that kitty – hers are in better shape than mine.

Eventually, maybe ten years after my husband’s death, I stopped wearing the bite guard, probably in the search for a decent night’s sleep. My teeth had stopped grinding by that point; my heartache had lessened.

So, now I’m thinking- will I need another twofer as I grieve Dad’s death? Should I hedge my bets and use my 30% off coupon or wait? Wait like we did sitting two weeks in ICU tearing out our hearts. We sat, siblings, wife, and friends, listening to the constant noise of the unit whittle away more and more of my father.

That unit was never quiet. I don’t begrudge the nurses their laughs or gossip. It’s the mechanical noises that got to us. The continual and rhythmic whines and whirl loved ones learn to block out, but the unexpected beep sends our hearts racing with adrenaline and sets my teeth to grinding. The nursing unit jumps into action and visitors shuffle to the walls plastering their ashen bodies against the hospital green paint.

Every night during that two weeks, I changed out of my clothes as fast as I could. Who expects to spend two weeks in a hospital chair with the frigid air circulating the stench of decomposing bodies? We began to look like the sheets, wrinkled and threadbare with use. After eating a nutritious dinner – we were keeping up our strength – we would retire to our corners of the house.

I sat by the computer watching Netflix movies, any movie with a killer shark. You don’t get many killer sharks in ICU, so I thought they would be safe to watch. I was aware of teetering on the edge, dancing between the extremes of closing everything up so tightly that it would take an act of God to open me up again and on the other end, the great beast of grief breathing down my neck, teeth ready to drag me under. Maybe Jaws wasn’t such a great idea. If I tiptoed up to the abyss, I saw a long drop down into sadness and pain as deep as the pain I had known before – an abyss where the tiniest act of kindness would send me into a despair for days, knock me down and leave me winded to the point that I wondered if I wanted to go on living, waking every morning with my jaws aching and the taste of old teacups in my mouth. Maybe the shark movies were a brilliant leap of my subconscious.

I searched my Netflix queue; I watched six shark movies and even got my sister hooked on them when she joined us in our vigil. The night before she left, we gave it a rest and watched a comedy, but only after watching an hour of The Omen, a 70s movie, predicting the end of days. Maybe My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 was not the most tactful of choices, but I figured we needed something not too taxing. We laughed. I thought my stepbrother might fall out of his seat at one point. Even so, my teeth ached the next morning.

Back home, trying to establish a world without my Dad, I still feel the need to watch my “big bug” movies. I know Andrew wonders what the fuck I’m doing, but I don’t want reality right now. I want fantasy where my father wakes up demanding decent coffee with whipping cream and brown sugar, Lichen tries to serve us tripe, and I don’t stick a clear chunk of plastic in my mouth every night to avoid fracturing my teeth.

(I drew the shark. Don’t copy without asking me.)

 

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