Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Dark Mornings

Category: Life Winners, Issue 4

I hated Saturday mornings because my wife and I had to be at work so early in the morning along with the fact we worked so late on Friday nights. When my mother started knocking on our bedroom door at six AM all I wanted to do was rollover and go back to sleep. I almost did until I heard her say, almost cry out; “Come see what is wrong with your father.”

When I stepped into my parent’s bedroom I knew right away that something was wrong. My mother was standing in the corner looking pale and my father was lying in bed looking even paler. I looked at the wolf’s head tattoo on his chest and noticed it wasn’t moving. I had no doubt at that point that my father had died in the night. I knew I had to check for a pulse to confirm what my mother feared and I already knew. I went to my father and checked for a pulse. His flesh was cold, he had no pulse and his chest did not rise and fall as it should.

I looked back for my mother but she had left the room. I walked out into the hallway and saw her standing at the other end. She was wringing her hands so forcefully I could actually see them change color as the blood was forced out of her fingers and palms. I went to her and held her as I told her that her husband, my father, had died. My wife came out of our bedroom at that point asking what was going on. She heard me repeating myself to my mother and knew. They both began crying and I began the painful job of trying not to cry. My mother asked me to take her back to the bedroom so she could say goodbye. I held her up as best as I could and led her there with my wife by our side the entire time.

It was odd seeing my father lying there on his back that way. His arms were at his sides and his legs were straight with the bed sheet covering him to the middle of his chest. I expected to see either a smile or scowl on his face but there was neither, just a neutral expression. It was the same expression I saw when I looked at him time and again. Not an expression of pride or of disappointment but an expression that stayed at the front of my mind the rest of the day.

My wife and I tried to avoid the pain by going to work that morning. I believe we both secretly hoped our supervisors would be sympathetic and send us home. We were both wrong and neither of us made it through the day without breaking down in tears. The hardest part was that we worked in different departments and couldn’t be there for each other.

A year later we both took the day off from work and dedicated the day to reflecting on good memories and supporting each other when the sad memories surfaced. I don’t cry any more but I still feel the loss. The lessons I learned from my father’s death are probably the best he ever taught me. You should never suppress your feelings and you should always let your loved ones know that you love them.

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Old Comments

  • I hope your annual memorial persists.

    A writing teacher or a book or something once let me in on a valuable technique in writing.  It is to search out these places where we revert to explaining what happened rather than reporting it:
    “I went to her and held her as I told her that her husband, my father, had died.”  These are the places that require us to do the most work in writing, and the work is worth the effort.  It is difficult to imagine what you might have said, and how you might have said it.  I believe it is also difficult to remember it after it happens.  It takes a strong memory and/or imagination to write it out realistically, but that effort has a big payoff when it affects your readers.

    And welcome to Litmocracy!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/26  at  02:11 AM
  • Well done, very heartfelt and evocative. The loss of our loved ones is something most of us have endured, but it’s still a tremendously personal hurt, as your words will attest. I would like to have known a tiny bit more about what kind of Dad he was, but your words portray a man deeply loved by his family. I’ve found that many of us will proudly, but painfully continue to deal with loss by speaking, writing, even singing about those who’ve passed, making it less hurtful and more helpful, each time we do it. Chin up, pencil down, carry on

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/12  at  12:20 PM
  • I read this several months ago when you posted it, but happened to read it again today. My Mum passed away about two and a half weeks ago. (She was also a member on this site, Coquihalla.)

    I was originally touched by this piece, but now that I’ve experienced it myself, it becomes that much more.

    I’d add to your lessons learned, though, that it is important to continue to honour those who are gone. With your day off to remember and love one another, you certainly did that, and I, too, hope that you continue to do so in some way.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/11  at  11:40 PM
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