Letters To My Dad: F is for Funeral #AprilA2Z #AtoZChallenge

Image by keesluising from Pixabay

On January 22, 2022, my Dad died. My theme, “Letters to my Dad” is based on random thoughts about him and the aftermath of not having him around anymore.

Hey Dad,

As the self-appointed “gatekeeper” of the family (or as you always called me, “Miss Fix-It”), I ended up planning your funeral.

You and I both know how good I am at being organized and thinking 20 steps ahead, not because I am perfect but because it reduces my anxiety levels. But under these circumstances, I wish that I could have delegated your funeral arrangements to someone else.

I’m not sure that I would have been able to cope if we hadn’t agreed to pre-arrange your funeral with your personal involvement. Yeah, it would have been too overwhelming for me but I would have found a way to deal with it while pretending that I was fine.

Your funeral.

It was barely a week after your diagnosis that pragmatic youngest bro suggested that you have an active role in the arrangements.

I won’t fool you. The suggestion to pre-arrange hit me harder than I thought, which was weird because I had pre-arranged my own funeral the year before and was very cut and dry about it. But then again, I wasn’t dying when I finalized my plans.

Deep down, I knew that youngest bro was right. Whatever you would want is what we would want to do for you.

But I can’t imagine how you must have felt, knowing that you were actually dying.

“Marq, you pre-arranged your own funeral last year, right? Why don’t you call the person you signed with and ask them if they are open to coming to the house?” That is what littlest bro said and when you agreed Dad, that is what I did.

So there we were. A bright and sunny Saturday morning in the month of May at 8h00 in the livingroom with all us, including oldest bro who travelled down, and the funeral home rep. Over Tim Horton’s coffees and doughnuts, we tried to make the situation as light as possible. So light in fact that I think that the funeral rep was a bit weirded out by being outnumbered and our attitude..

A viewing or no viewing? How many viewings? How much chapel time? The funeral home officiant or own our officiant? Cremation or no cremation? The type of urn? A smaller keepsake urn that could be taken to Puerto Rico to toss in the ocean you loved so much and another for Guyana to bury with your parents?

After that meeting, all that was left was for me to do was to make a follow up appointment to finalize and prepay for all that was decided that early Saturday morning in May.

May…

June…

July...

August...

September...

October…

November…

I kept dragging my feet, foolishly hoping that my procrastination would keep the inevitable at bay.

And I think you knew it.

“When are you going to go pay for the funeral thing?” You said it once and only once.

It was your way of letting me know that it was time for me to get it done and relieve myself of that heaviness on my shoulders.

And so at a 6:00 pm appointment on a November night, I got it done.

But I was more worried about the corner we had turned towards the inevitable. 😦

Loving you always,

M

Letters To My Dad: E is for Existence #AprilA2Z #AtoZChallenge

A very early morning walk with my Dad…

On January 22, 2022, my Dad died. My theme, “Letters to my Dad” is based on random thoughts about him and the aftermath of not having him around anymore.

Hey Dad,

Remember this photo I snapped of you a few years back?

Now when I look at it, I envision you walking off into the happiness of a better place where you will be waiting for me when the time comes.

A peaceful and gentler place far way from this messy world of pain and entanglements.

When I took this photo, I never thought that I would be looking at it with a totally different perspective – a time where you would be existing elsewhere.

Dad, I know that life goes on.

I mean, bills don’t pay themselves, houses don’t self-clean, other people’s health issues still have to be addressed and estates need to be settled.

In our case, loaned hospital beds had to scheduled for pick-up, feeding pumps had to UPSed back from where they came and an entire duffle bag of medications had to be triaged and returned to the pharmacy for proper disposal.

Actually, I’m lying about that last one – it was only a few Sundays ago that I forced myself to sit on the livingroom floor and sort through that duffle bag of trial and errors.

That duffle bag brought me back to giving you post-chemo injections. Juggling pain medications to maximize relief yet minimize their build-up in your system. Medications every 2 hours, some every 4 hours, others every 6 and the rest every 8 hours.

Most days I feel like that ’round the clock care never happened, like it was just a dream that never really occurred.

And it irks me that, as time marches on, it’s like YOU never existed.

Like you were never born.

Like you were never even here.

When a funeral is over, there are a few check-in phone calls from less immediate family and friends. Then, those calls become more sporadic, sprinkled here and there until the phone no longer rings. Your existence begins to fade for them as they get on with the business of life and that is understandable.

Very understandable.

I often think, is this what we as humans are all eventually reduced to?

Fancy suits and dress pants left hanging in overstuffed closets. Boxes full of Father’s Day, birthday and Christmas cards tucked safely under a beds. Boxes of trinkets and dollarstore items we teased you about for “collecting” but never using. A bunch of “stuff” that will need to be sorted through when we feel strong enough to tackle that mountain.

I’m a little ashamed to say it but…

Just the other day, I noticed a family taking a walk together, smiling and laughing so louldy that I could hear them through the closed window. And you know what I thought? What I actually said out loud to myself while I stood at that window?

“How dare you guys look so happy when my Dad is dead.”

I know, I know…

It’s plain old jealousy mixed with envy because I remember when we used to laugh and talk so loudly that others would give us those “why are you being so loud” looks and we didn’t care.

I was looking at that family thinking how unfair it was that life happily goes on for others while I’m erasing your identity and existence via endless paperwork and phone calls to authorities, organizations and establishments. Some days I don’t even want to get out of bed because I don’t know where I left off the day before.

Dad, as you would say, “One day at a time Marq” and I have no choice but to approach it that way each and every day.

Loving you always,

M

Letters To My Dad: D is for Death #AprilA2Z #AtoZChallenge

Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay

On January 22, 2022, my Dad died. My theme, “Letters to my Dad” is based on random thoughts about him and the aftermath of not having him around anymore.

Hey Dad,

Thank you for deciding that passing away at home was the only option.

Fifty-four years in the same house is a long time and we didn’t expect you to want it any other way.

You were able to be at peace in the house you made a home, where we have so many memories. We were able to continue coming and going as we pleased with little need to juggle too many covid concerns and pandemic protocols.

Remember when I taped this sign I found on the internet to the front door to remind everyone to be extremely careful around you?

You had such a good laugh at this graphic that I posted a second one near your Lazyboy chair. 🙂

Early on in your diagnosis, you professed that you weren’t afraid of dying.

In your words, “Dying is like going to sleep and simply not waking up”. You said it time and time again to others when the topic came up.

I know that you meant it but deep down, I also know that you were putting on a brave face for the “others”.

In the quiet times, sometimes late at night, it was with us, your kids, that you broke down. And when you broke down, we put on our brave faces to comfort you.

Remember how I used to suffer from insomnia as a kid and had such a hard time falling asleep?

How it was so bad that oftentimes biggest bro would do his high school homework at the desk in my room just to keep my company until I did eventually fall asleep?

What I never told you was that I dreaded going to sleep because of a recurring nightmare I would have – where I would wake up to find out that you, Mom and the boys were gone and I was left alone by myself in the world – a world I already knew, even at that young age, didn’t favor little girls who looked like me.

To fall asleep, I would often pray that I could die first so that I would never have to experience that kind of aloneness and loneliness.

The thought of my own death has never frightened me. Even when the doctors thought that I had a cancerous tumour as a teenager, I wasn’t afraid. Not one bit. I remember telling you that and you being surprised.

My fear of death has only ever been related to my loved ones like you. And with you actually gone now, my insomnia has reappeared.

Don’t feel bad. It’s not your fault. I’m taking steps to deal with it.

Don’t you fret Dad. I’ll eventually be ok.

Loving you always,

M

Letters To My Dad: C is for Chemotherapy #AprilA2Z #AtoZChallenge

Image by klbz from Pixabay

On January 22, 2022, my Dad died. My theme, “Letters to my Dad” is based on random thoughts about him and the aftermath of not having him around anymore.

Hey Dad,

Thank you for trying the chemotherapy option.

Though you didn’t see its utility, you suffered through it because you knew we wanted to have as much extra time with you as possible.

Man, you were such a trooper when you kept going even when your CEA levels kept creeping higher and the doctors were not so kindly encouraging you to stop (excuse my language but I still say fuck ’em for the lack of bedside manner).

And when you finally decided to go the palliative route, we completely understood.

Thank you for blessing us with that extra time that we will forever cherish.

You know that if I could have taken the chemo for you, I would have done it in a heartbeat and without a moment’s hesitation.

I know that you felt guilty about me going to every chemo treatment, PET scan, X-ray, blood test and so many other appointments. But like I told you a million times, there was no way in hell I would have been anywhere else but with you through it all.

And you know that I am not one to lie.

Remember how we watched so many other cancer patients in the oncology waiting room all alone and clearly ruminating in their own thoughts while we chatted away, that is, when you hadn’t dozed off from those early morning treatment appointments? No spouse or adult children to accompany them and having to call a taxi to get themselves home post-chemo. We both wondered if they had anyone to help them at home.

But looking back now…

I truly don’t know how you endured the treatments as you did – the high fevers coupled with feeling chilled to the bone, the uncontrollable shakes that made you want to crawl out of your skin, the pained look on your face that took all my effort to not cry about in front of you.

You were brave about the trips to the emergency room for super high fevers, the hip arthroplasty, lumbar injections for pain, radiation therapy, a PICC line, the feeding tube, PET scans, and claustrophobic MRIs where you tried not to cry.

Not to mention the visits to physiotherapy and accupuncture in the last months to see if some of your pain could be relieved.

Dad, you were a true trooper.

I also don’t know how you put up with us (though you did tell us off a bunch of times in your way) when we insisted that you eat though you had no interest in food. We couldn’t even tempt you with homecooked West Indian/Caribbean and Guyanese food that others made for you because let’s face it, no one can cook any of those dishes like you.

You were and will always be the foodie of the family.

I miss you asking us what we wanted to eat for the next day’s dinner when we hadn’t even started eating the dinner in front of us. 🙂

I think that I’m a pretty intelligent person but somehow it never dawned on me that there would come a time when all the treatments would come to a stop. That the cancer would ramp up and eventually take control over your body.

“Marq, you do realize that eventually the chemo treatment will stop working, right? And then it will just be a matter of “when” and “how”. Pancreatic cancer spares no one” It wasn’t until pragmatic and rational littlest bro pulled me aside and said those words that it hit me. And even then, it took days for that truth to absorb into my being.

Dad, I don’t know what the future holds for me but I don’t think that I would be able to have the strength and courage that you had and that you showed to us.

Loving you always,

M

Letters To My Dad: B is for Body #AprilA2Z #AtoZChallenge

Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

On January 22, 2022, my Dad died. My theme, “Letters to my Dad” is based on random thoughts about him and the aftermath of not having him around anymore.

Hey Dad,

The sound of the zipper of the body bag they placed you in…

I don’t remember the sound of it being zipped up but the grandkids do.

I heard them talking about it again not too long ago – how they still can’t stand the sound of any zipper, the fact that the sound triggers their pain, how it still resonates in their head.

Some of them wanted to be present when you passed but we only let them come right afterwards.

We knew that you wouldn’t want the image of you taking your last breaths to be etched in their memories.

We knew that you would have preferred for them to see you as if you were simply peacefully sleeping.

You must have been soooo proud at how all the kids insisted on following behind the van that took your body away. They trailed behind you and that van all the way to the funeral home just so they could remain connected to you for a little while longer. Even little three month old T, the newest member of the team, your first and only great-grandchild joined in for the ride-along.

Was it a convoy of 7 or 8 cars? I don’t remember.

What I do remember is feeling the warmth in my heart for what they did and the loving respect they showed you. They loved you to bits.

Until those men arrived to take you away, I sat by your side, kissed your face and kept whispering my thoughts into your ear. All those who were in that livingroom probably thought that after so many months of taking care of you, I had finally lost my marbles. And the fact that I wasn’t hysterically crying likely threw them for a loop too.

I guess I surprised them and myself too.

When it was finally time for them to take your body away, I followed you out to the street with no winter coat on and supervised as they gently placed you in the back of their van and closed the doors.

When the kids asked if I wanted to ride along for their procession, I said no.

They didn’t know what you and I know.

You and I both know that though your body might have been taken away, the colorful essence of your true spirit was still present and strong in that livingroom, in that house and with me – where your presence was, has always been and where it will always remain.

Dad, I miss you fiercely but I always feel better knowing that your spirit is ever-present.

Loving you always,

M

Letters To My Dad: A is for Age #AprilA2Z #AtoZChallenge

On January 22, 2022, my Dad died. My theme, “Letters to my Dad” is based on random thoughts about him and the aftermath of not having him around anymore.

Hey Dad,

Thank you for spending 51 of your 87 years with me.

I am so grateful that I had you in my life for that long. Some children aren’t that lucky.

But who am I kidding?

I was truly expecting to have you around until you were 99 like your own father.

I know that Aaliyah said, “Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number” (you wouldn’t know the singer I’m referring to) but it pisses me off to no end how people think that it was somehow okay for you to die just because you were 87.

Am I not supposed to feel upset and sad because you were of a certain age?

Is there a scale of mourning based on age that no one told me about?

“Oh, your father was 87? At least he had 86 good years and all of his faculties.”

“Wow, 87? When I lost my daughter, she hadn’t even begun to live her life yet! At least your father lived his life.

“Oh well, we all have to go one day, right?”

Sorry but age IS just a number.

Dad, I understand that people say these things to make others feel better but if that’s the case, I wish they would shut the hell up and say nothing at all.

None of those statements make me feel better. They just make me angry because their tone implies that I should be less affected and less sad.

When people say those things, all it does is make me NOT want bite my tongue to stop myself from saying something mean.

Those types of statements give me the urge to SLAP someone silly and that type of behaviour is not even part of my personality.

And when those statements are accompanied by a “vibe” that tells me the person doesn’t have an authentically sympathetic or empathic bone in their body, I find myself fantasizing about the day I can be petty and use their own words right back on them.

And Dad, you of all people know how petty I can be when I choose to be…

For a hot minute, I thought that I was overreacting but no, I’m not alone in my thinking.

Remember that woman who works at the post office? I was mailing out copies of your order of service to friends and family who couldn’t attend the funeral (yup, Covid restrictions) and I told her about you. We got to talking, she shared some of things people told her that pissed her off when she lost her husband and father two years ago.

Besides her, I’ve spoken to many others who have lost older loved ones and they all agree with me too.

I know exactly what you would say to me – “Girl, don’t fret yourself about it. Just ignore it.”

Dad, you’ll be glad to know that I’m trying my best to do just that – not fret.

But I can’t promise you that I won’t be petty if the opportunity presents itself... sorry.

Loving you always,

M

The A to Z Challenge Starts Tomorrow… #AprilA2Z #AtoZChallenge

On January 22, 2022, my Dad died.

The night before he was cremated, I wrote him a letter.

A very long letter full of love, truths and gratitude that I had already said to him during his illness.

I wrote, wrote and wrote until the early morning hours until my hand was sore. I wanted to place that letter in his hands when I saw him for the very last time.

I needed for my words to forever become one with him and the other favorite items we planned on placing in his cremation container.

I was surprised at how the act of handwriting that letter to my Dad soothed my soul a little bit.

Since that day, I have been writing little handwritten notes to my Dad, here and there, whenever the mood strikes.

Sometimes I smile as I write to him with his smiling face is on my screensaver but most times, I just simply cry.

Like I said for the A to Z Challenge Reveal a few weeks back, I’m stepping out of my hiatus to participate in this year’s A to Z Challenge.

My theme, “Letters to my Dad” will be based on random thoughts about him and the aftermath of not having him around anymore.

But be forewarned…

I am not pre-writing posts.

I doubt that I will have the wherewithall to visit many other blogs so you will need to forgive me in advance.

And don’t be too surprised if I don’t make it through to the letter Z…but then again, who knows?

All I know is that my plan is to pick a word the night before the alphabet letter is due and post whatever flows out of my head.

To all those participating in the A to Z Challenge, happy writing and have fun making new blogging friends.

Bisous,

M xoxo