I need to write. But my dad died and I’m not sure I can really write about anything other than that but I’m just not ready.
So, to become unstuck, I will say this: I’ve cried more regarding the kindness of people than I have about my father dying. He was in such bad shape that I felt like his death, although not welcome and not a relief, was better of the two shitty, shitty options he faced, which were: Die or suffer.
We tried very, very hard to get him better but it didn’t work. And he died.
So it goes.
But, oh, the kindness of people. The kindness. I’ve been constantly lifted by, as Anne Lamott calls them, “the precious community who keeps us company.” I can barely open any condolence cards because I’m so blown away that people (both close friends and the barest of acquaintances) would care enough to 1. Find a condolence card in the first place. 2. Write in it. 3. Find my address. 4. Find a stamp and then mail it. (It should be known I’m constantly impressed by people who can handle multiple steps, as I’ve written about before.)
After his memorial service, funeral, and burial, I thought all the public crying was over. But then at church on Easter Sunday (I did SO MUCH CHURCHING this past week), I was able to talk to a young Pakistani woman who is a part of our Presbyterian congregation. She’s also nurse at the nursing home where my Dad was before he went into the ICU. Although she wasn’t stationed on my dad’s floor, because she knew him, she would go and hold his hand and check in on him during the week he was there. And when I went to thank her for her kindness (I don’t even know her name!), I started crying all over again. (The crying was amplified because for the reception after the funeral, her mother-in-law made a huge vat of Pakistani rice pudding my dad always said he liked.)
(Now I’m crying again…over Pakistani pudding and someone doing something as simple as checking in on a very sick old man.)
They didn’t do this because my dad was so special to them. They weren’t close friends; they were merely cordial to one another. But this family stepped up for him. (And because I’m a crazy liberal, I am especially teary that an immigrant family would do this for us, after all the public vitriol immigrants are currently facing.)
I’ve always loved the term “circle the wagons,” which is when settlers, under attack, would coordinate and draw their horse-drawn covered wagons into a circle to help protect one another instead of looking out for their own interests. And that is what I just experienced through my “precious community,” from Mom friends who dropped off food for Nat and the kids when I was away and with Dad in the ICU; my Friday sitter constantly texting me scripture and words of encouragement and who came over just to help me pack and sort clothes; my management at work who let me take off with pay and benefits; co-workers who picked up the work slack; day care workers who gave my kids extra love; my lovely brother who sat with my Dad in the hospital for 14 hours a day, trying to figure out what was going on while I was in New Jersey. Cousins who drove to my dad’s funeral from North Carolina to support my mom. Friends who drove long distances to see me at his memorial service. High school friends I haven’t seen in ages. Pakistani pudding.
The list is endless.
In closing, I feel like I could face my dad dying because I didn’t have a choice. None of us have a choice when it comes to death. But I can hardly handle the kindness shown by the living; the loveliness is almost too much to bear.