Sometimes I close my eyes to block out all distractions so I can memorize his face. His voice. His laugh. The kind of memorization that comes only from the mind. A picture can't do it justice. The exercise is meant to etch the image and sound into my memory forever...
One of my greatest fears at the end was thinking of forgetting his memory, his voice, his laugh. It literally kept me up those nights when I curled into a ball in my bed and sobbed thinking "I can't do this. There is NO WAY I can do this." And then I became obsessed with recording his stories and voice. And there are videos abounding. So grateful for them now, they almost serve to keep him here longer and send me further into the abyss of denial.
I replay conversations, hugs, stories, and wish I would have written more down, the way things happened. Yet, then, it was all too overwhelming. I want to remember it ALL. I still hear his voice. I remember him saying "I love ya' sis." I remember the way his chin quivered when he saw Macie at the end and said "There was so much I wanted to do with her..." The way he told me he couldn't die in a nursing home and how I secretly promised him we'd get him home. The way he said he hadn't done enough for Jesus, that he wish he'd known him sooner. The way he said "Play more sis" when I played praise music for him in Hospice. The way he clenched my hand when he opened his eyes to see me sitting there and raised his eyebrows as if to ask me if I needed something and I'd just respond to him by saying "I'm just sitting with you Dad. I'm just here." The way he smiled when I read him scripture. The way he sobbed when I read him my 6 pages of notes and I asked if he wanted me to stop and he said "No. Read it sis." The way I begged Jesus to take him, the pain of his suffering was just too great... The way he smiled when I said "Don't worry Daddy. You'll be with Jesus and we'll be right behind you." The way I smiled and was strong and didn't cry until I walked out of the room and fell on my moms bed and said "I JUST CAN'T DO THIS. IT'S JUST TOO HARD."
And the way I cursed and cried out to God and said I needed Him most of all, because without Him, I, too would die along with my dad. And the way I feel like a part of me did...and still is dead.
Tears flow as I type. I miss him completely. I miss him desperately. I miss him painfully. I miss him joyfully.
I feel so alone as I grieve, yet I know that so many have walked this road before me...Grief is the most unifying yet individualizing thing I've ever experienced. I want to remember IT ALL in the off chance that God will use me in someone else's hour of need. Most all of us will bury our parents. And I want to be there...
For now, the pain is nearly unbearable. I know it will lessen in time. And until then, I will close my eyes and grasp the memories. The smile, the wrinkles, the grey hair, the chuckle, the brilliance, the love.