Better Get a Bigger Bottle...

What a rough week. I don't really know what to say. I'm not sure why I even have the urge to write. Mom suggested I keep a journal, maybe this will be my version of journaling. I don't write for those who may read it, I write to ease the heaviness in my heart.

A couple of weeks ago, we had the privilege of all getting together on the same weekend to spend time with my Dad. This included my brother from Oklahoma, me, and my sister and brother that live in Georgia. It was a sweet time with Dad. It also was a time for Mom to discuss important things for the "future". Who knew the "future" would be so soon. I remember sitting in the living room with tears streaming down my cheeks as she discussed things she had already taken care of regarding funeral arrangements. Hospice and the social workers all told her it was best to get as much done ahead of time as possible. I remember telling her that I did not want an open casket. I did not want to see Dad like that.

This past week I couldn't see him enough. After seeing him on Tuesday morning at the funeral home, each day I longed to just look in his face one more time. I would dream of his smile. I could still hear his voice in my head. Friday was the visitation. We were able to go as a family at 1:00 p.m. before the official visitation started at 2:00 p.m. I couldn't believe how different Dad looked from the morning I saw him. His hair was combed, his color was back (make up) and he was in a suit. A suit that swallowed him whole. He lost so much weight towards the end.

My mom had given my sister two lapel pins to put on Dad's suit. He already had two on there, but she found two others that she wanted to swap out. One said "Warrior for Christ" and the other said "Done" with a small cross symbol. We stood over his casket as my sister, thru a waterfall of tears, changed his lapel pins. We all were crying. Our tears were falling like raindrops on Dad's suit. I couldn't stop touching him. I stroked his hair, I stroked his face, I touched his hands. I still kept looking at his eyes expecting him to open them at any moment.

Then an endless line of visitors. So many coming to show their support. Thank you, my dear friends, that came just to say "I'm sorry" and "I'm here for you." The day was long and tiring. We had two visitations (2-4 and 6-8). I remember leaving at 4:15 and closing the door behind us and not wanting to leave Dad in there all alone. About 8:30 p.m. we had the last of visitors and were able to spend another few moments alone with Dad. Again, I didn't want to leave him. I kept rubbing his cheeks and didn't find myself so affected by the coldness anymore.

Saturday was the funeral. So moving, so many people touched by Dad's life. The music was beautiful. Both my brothers spoke. My little brother, Rodney, did an incredible job honoring Dad. I was especially proud of him. Don't you ever wonder how tear ducts don't run out? I have cried so much this past week, and this weekend---I didn't know one could cry so much.

The ladies at the church prepared a meal for our family and extended family and friends. I remember filling my plate, but only eating a few bites. My eyelids felt so heavy and I didn't have an appetite. My headache was getting worse and I felt a migraine coming on. About 2:00 p.m. we got on the road to go to Luthersville for the burial. We made it as far as Peachtree City when the caravan had to pull over for me to run into a gas station restroom and throw up (sorry for the details). I kept getting sick and this delayed us for a few minutes. Then we were on the road again. When we arrived, they already had the casket in place. The temperature was dropping and the wind was getting colder. We all gathered under the tents and the pastor said a few words and then prayed. None of us wanted to leave. So, we found a spot in the sun and watched as they lowered Dad and the gravediggers began to cover him. Gary kept saying "are you sure you want to stay for this?"...and I did. I remember feeling like I didn't want to miss any of it. I wanted to see and feel every bit of it until the very end and etch every detail into my mind. It felt so final. Again, I had to grab a trash bag from the car and get sick. The minutes seemed like hours and finally they had all the flowers on top of the grave. We took some roses from the arrangements, said our final goodbyes and left. Each of us silent as we drove away. I fell asleep for about 20 minutes, trying to ease my migraine and both emotionally and physically exhausted. When I woke up, it was time for an immediate stop at a gas station bathroom again.

We finally made it home almost close to 6:30 p.m. I took some medicine and went to bed while the rest of the family went out to dinner. They returned a little after 9:00 p.m. and I had gotten some good rest. Gary picked me up a Chick-fil-A nugget meal. I thought I was hungry, but was only able to eat 4 nuggets before it came back up again. I decided to just go back to bed.

This morning I awoke with no headache, but with such an emptiness in my heart. I decided to get busy and do some things around the house while Mom was at church with some of our relatives. I was not ready to go back to the place where we just had Dad's funeral. This afternoon, the funeral home directors came by with a van load full of flowers and plants. It was unbelievable how many there were---they filled the living room, the dining room, the foyer, the den and we had some in the kitchen and in Mom's room. She said tomorrow she and her friend Gail, were going to go deliver some of the arrangements to the hospice and maybe the rehab center too.

It was so hard leaving tonight. I didn't want to leave my Mom. It hurt me to think of her all alone in the house for the first time since Dad's passing. I wanted to stay with her. I didn't want to think of her experiencing pain and loneliness. I know she has to experience it at some point. I know, even if I stayed, there would come a day when I would have to go home and she would have to experience it then. But I wanted to protect her from that pain. It's like the first time you let go of your child's bike with no training wheels. I want to run behind her and keep holding on so she won't fall.

After a long, tearful ride home of reliving the entire week, I called Mom to check on her and possibly offer her some encouragement. She did the encouraging---I did the crying. She shared with me a verse from Psalms where God collects our tears in a bottle. I love the way the Message (version) puts it...

"You've kept track of my every toss and turn
through the sleepless nights,
Each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book."
Psalm 56:8

Mom, He's going to have to get a bigger bottle.

2 sweet friends had to say...:

Di-dan said...

Tracey, it just blows me away every time I read something you've written. There are simply no words. You mentioned on Friday that you don't know why you write all this, but as I said the other day as well, I'm glad you share your heart via this mode because it lets those of us who care so much know what you are feeling even if you aren't able to talk or discuss it. It lets each of us know how we can pray for you, stand beside you, support you and just be your friend. Personally, I'm finding that I can't get you, Terri or the rest of your family off my mind, even at this hour, waking to see if you had posted anything more. I know you have friends there, but I hate that you are back there and we aren't...and most of all, that I'M not. I know there is nothing to do about that...just don't think that out of sight will mean out of mind. No matter how you may feel at times, you are not alone. I will have to be creative to think of ways to support you from afar the way I want to, but rest assured, I WILL do it. You and your friendship mean too much for it to be otherwise.

Thanks for sharing your heart, Tracey. It means a lot. Know that I love you and that I care. Always!

RealEstateGirl said...

Thank you Dianne. I had a restless night. I don't think I've slept a full night in a week. You have done so much already. I appreciate you being there the entire time for both visitations. You are the most self-less person I've ever known. I'm privileged to have you as a dear friend. I already miss you. Much love my friend.

 
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