My dad died over ten years ago. It was very sudden; there was no time for a goodbye. The heartache of that loss is with me, in some measure, every day. It sweeps over me when I hear a song he used to like, or see a book he read to me as a child, things like that. It happens all the time. I usually don’t burst out in tears or have difficulty controlling myself. I embrace those memories and thank God for the wonderful Dad that loved me and raised me.
But today, it was different. My mother sent us a CD that she had bought when she visited us in Topeka, Kansas, in May of 2004. She was recently cleaning out drawers and came across it. She mailed to us to see if we wanted it, and so that Mitchell could listen to a particular song, which was a piano solo. As the music began, the tears began, too. I remembered that visit, the last time I ever saw my dad, the last time I felt his embrace, his kiss on my cheek; the last time I saw the glistening of tears in the laugh lines beside his eyes and smelled his cologne. It all came back like an ocean wave, knocking me down. I cried. My kids were all standing there, staring at me with worried expressions. I continued to sob, scrunching up my face in an ugly way. I decided not to try to stop my tears but let them pour. A while later I had a headache and my face was splotchy. I looked like I did ten years ago, right after he died! I was a mess.
But that describes grief. It’s messy, it’s unpredictable, and it’s part of being human. My mother is more private than I am. I worry that I tax her inside because I share too much of what I’m feeling about everything under the sun. She never scolds me or corrects me. She just stands a little taller and gives me a look that says, “I understand you, even though you’re not like me. And I love you just the way you are.”
And with that thought, I have to go shed some more tears. Tears of gratitude to God for giving me the two most wonderful parents that ever walked on the planet.