The Longest Day

I’ve never lived 24 hours that seemed longer than the past 24 hours have felt. I don’t even know why I’m writing, other than the fact that I feel so trapped and writing has been a great avenue to express my feelings. As I write this, Gary is practicing the cello and my mom is accompanying him on the piano, playing the music that will be played at the funeral. The cello has always been one of my favorite instruments, so deep and soulful and mellow. Right now it just makes me want to scream. On the outside, I may appear quiet and calm, but on the inside, my heart is overwhelmed with sadness. I want to cry out to everyone around me…”Don’t you know what just happened? I just lost my dad. How can you continue to go about your every day business?” My mind still can’t wrap around the fact that my Dad is gone. I feel too young to have lost one of my parents.

The past 24 hours seem like time has stood still. When the phone rang about 10:35 p.m. (Central time) on Monday evening and my mom’s words cried out “Trace, Dad has just died”….I couldn’t believe it. She quickly got off the phone to continue on down her list of phone calls to make. I have never felt such heartache. As I hung up the phone, I screamed and cried no, that it was too soon, they said just a week ago that his vitals looked good, his organs appeared strong, no! How could this happen? I wasn’t there…I’m not ready to let him go. I quickly started throwing things into a suitcase, woke up Zack, and in under an hour the three of us were out the door on our way to Atlanta. My sister and younger brother got to Mom’s in just a matter of minutes and were able to spend some time with my Dad. In phone calls to my sister, I kept pleading for them to wait until I got there to take Dad away. Unfortunately, the funeral home came in about an hour and had to take them. She said they waited as long as they could. I just wanted to touch him, to hold his hand—I just couldn’t believe he was gone.

Monday night and early into the morning on Tuesday, we just sat and cried. None of us got much sleep. Tuesday morning we had to go to the funeral home and take care of some details. Terri had told the funeral home that I was the one that wasn’t able to get there in time to see him. They said they would see if they could get Dad “ready enough” for us to see. A little later they took us to a room where Dad was. Even though the stainless steel table and white sheets and blanket looked so hard and cold, Dad looked so peaceful. He appeared as though he were sleeping and I couldn’t take my eyes off him. I kept thinking he was just going to open his eyes and wake up. I was afraid to touch him. I was afraid of what he would feel like. Terri stroked his hair and face and kept rubbing his cheek. I just cried and cried and told her I was afraid to touch him. She said “don’t be” and I brushed his cheek with my hand. I wanted to feel the familiar warmth and softness of his skin, but was met with coldness. I wanted to hold him, to just drape myself across his chest and cry for him to wrap his arms around me. It was a difficult time for all of us—we just didn’t want to leave him.

The sun has risen on another day—but for me time has stood still. I don’t feel like I’m experiencing this. It feels like it’s happening to someone else and I’m just an observer. What is this supposed to feel like? Am I to be rejoicing that my Dad is in the presence of Jesus and no longer in any pain? I know that’s what I should be doing, but I don’t feel like it. I’m sad and I want my Dad back. Every time I pass by their room, I look where his bed is and keep thinking I’m going to see him and every time it’s empty and that pang of loneliness overwhelms me. I feel numb to everything and everyone around me.

Don’t hum, don’t sing, don’t play the cello, don’t do errands, stop the continuous play-back of telling everyone on the phone that God has answered prayer by allowing Dad to have a peaceful death. I can’t listen to it anymore. He’s gone. My Dad is gone. Stop doing what you’re doing and acknowledge the emptiness and pain. This is not just another day—this is another day that I’m trying to cope with losing my Dad.

I go in and sit on his bed and look up to the ceiling and imagine the angels carrying him to heaven. I wanted to be there when it happened. I wanted to hold his hand and tell him how much I loved him as he took his last breath. But I wasn’t here. I keep trying to hold on to the last good days we had together, with him stroking my cheeks and wiping my tears as I told him how much I would miss him when he was gone. I have always loved the warmth of his chestnut brown eyes and the twinkle of mischief that was ever present. My dad had a heart bigger than anyone I’ve ever known. He was firm and strong, yet sensitive. Sensitive to people in need, sensitive to the feelings of those around him.

I still can’t come to grips with talking about him in the past tense. I’m sure with time, it will get easier. But should it? I look around me and see so many of his traits in each of us…the warmth of my nephew’s chestnut brown eyes; my niece, who has a heart of gold and would give you her last dime; the sense of humor and knowledge of the Bible that he instilled in Zack. This is your legacy, Dad. You’ve been the cornerstone of our family and your legacy will live on in your children, your grandchildren and one day, your great-grandchildren.

I love you and miss you so much it hurts.

4 sweet friends had to say...:

Tracey said...

This is Tracey. Gary had to post this for me when he got home tonight because it wouldn't work on my Mom's computer.

The funeral is Saturday, November 4th at 11:00 a.m. at Zion Hill Baptist on Jodeco Road in Jonesboro. The viewing is Friday from 2-4 and 6-8 at Cannon-Cleveland funeral home on Hwy. 42 in McDonough. They also have a web site www.cannon-cleveland.com where the obituary is posted (Robert Brennan) and comments can also be left.

Di-dan said...

Tracey, your post and all this breaks my heart and the way you express yourself just makes me cry. You definitely have a gift for words. I know you are struggling. I wish there were more to say than that I care and am standing with you, but there just isn't. This is a huge loss, pure and simple. I have been amazed at the messages left on your dad's online guest book...such far away places from which people have responded. His truly has been a life well-lived, well-respected and well-honored and that is a great tribute. We should all be so fortunate.

As for you, I know you know all the 'truths,' but I'm sure nothing matters or matches the hurt you are feeling right now. My prayers for you are that you will do whatever it is you need to do to best deal with all that has happened and that you will have the strength and find what you need to get through the next few days. Without a doubt, I am here for you and I will be there this weekend.

If there is anything you need of me in the meantime, PLEASE let me know. I will be there before you can blink!

I love you, my friend!

Jodi Lynn said...

Oh Tracey, I am so sorry. I'm reading your post and crying and thinking, I know exactly how you feel!!! I did not want to leave the room, even after my dad was gone. I could not leave him in that room by himself.

I will be praying for you - hang in there honey.

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