Our Walks, His Love & My Acceptance
Since my dad announced his engagement, his gal has hit some fairly large health speed bumps. Enough so that she had to be hospitalized and even forced into retirement. During our morning walks, my dad will tell me the latest on her health. In this case, her age has not been an issue. The 17 year gap between them has been closed by her health.
I got a call two nights ago and it was my dad. He told me that he had brought her into his home and had been caring for her. He was timid in his request for me to go to the market to get her some toiletries and fluids. Without hesitation, I got dressed and went to the store.
When I let myself into his house, I heard him call my name from the bedroom. I turned the corner and what I saw next was a little shocking. She was tucked in, her pajamas on, and she did look very ill. She was so polite and humble, she almost seemed embarrassed. My dad had been her care giver in the way a spouse takes care of their loved one. I reminded her that I am a nurse and their was nothing wrong with needing help. She had a single tear roll down her cheek and seemed a little more hallow than the last time I saw her.
I was glad he called when he needed me. I would move the heavens for him, all he’d need to do is ask. There was a brief moment in time where, at a certain angle, she looked like my mom. Is that what he sees? Ever? I quickly set the alarm for them and left. I was careful that he didn’t hear the break in my voice as I bid a nice night’s sleep for them both.
The lights were soon distinguished from the grand porch and half-moon driveway that were designed by the mind of a beautiful woman whom I miss so much. And just a second or two later, the bedroom light came on, illuminating itself in a sea of darkness. Yet, not nearly as dark as I felt sitting there.
There will never be a second where I won’t be supportive of my father and Linda’s nuptials. From my angle, he will live longer if he marries. He is an animal of habit, and one of those is not being alone. Yes, I spend the night, I clean up for him, and plant flowers. He understands that I am having a hard time with my mom’s passing, but it is what it is. No matter the prayers, the pleading, my mom will never step foot in that house again. She will never be here again. That is my hell, he shouldn’t have to visit it.
The next morning, I went to the cemetery. No flowers, not a drop of coffee, just a pen to write notes on the stones of those I miss. This ritual has become my journal to her. I tell her how things are going and I ask her what it is like wherever she is. I have long stopped asking for answers. All it takes is the sprinklers or a rain, and the ink I used to spill my blood drains into the earth - washing away the sadness, the guilt and the questions. Just like that, we start over.
This is what I wrote: “Dad is taking care of her. He has been a gentleman, he says he loves her, but it is you. It has always been you. When you told me to be ready for this, you forgot to tell me how to do so. It’s okay. I love you and miss you more than ever. I will help dad, don’t worry, it won’t be all on him.”
What I didn’t ask was how to keep myself from seeing her in that bed instead of the woman who is still living. How do I not show the hurt on my face? As my dad and I took our walk the next morning, I told him that he sounded happy the night before. He didn’t need to reply, for I spoke truth. His absence of discussion was my confirmation. Linda makes him happy.
As for me? I will sit and watch the ink wash my thoughts into the grass - and for what? The rest of my life? For sure, the rest of his. And then I will write him notes as well. I will remember the walks, and our journey through grief and love. I guess I’m doing this because I love him, and I’m not the only one missing my mom. I know I can’t get another mom, and I also know that if he kept grieving, I would soon be burying my dad as well. That day will come soon enough. He won’t see my tears or read my letters. He will always get the best I have to give, because I promised. I promised...
I would like to thank everybody for all the well wishes for our anniversary. What wonderful people you are! Let’s talk again tomorrow. I will bring the coffee. -Ruth
#amwriting #loss #love #life