Dads funeral service was two days ago. It is done. All the stress of having the paperwork figured out finding a venue, picking the right photos for the keepsake bookmark, the photo albums, the board that displayed his life through pictures is all done. Packing the car and setting up the display was fun. Felt like a school fair. Small talk involved the weather, it was friggin hot!! Family drove in from out of town and gathered at the restaurant my parents were patrons of. It was fitting. The wait staff new him, and kept giving us hugs and words of encouragement and letting us know that there were there for us. Probably in the sense of what they can do for us in terms of food, chairs, etc. but I got the impression that they meant much more. When you have a service without using the funeral chain you get to pick the mood and atmosphere. I found myself racing to the front of the restaurant to greet my family that I haven't seen in a while and couldn't wait to show them their three month old niece. When I got to them to receive and give our hugs of hello, I was assaulted with their red rimmed watery eyes, the tilt of their head and instead of a hug, hands on my shoulders holding me in place lest I run away when they ask me so softly 'How you doing hon''. I tell them I'm fine. But I am not fine. Everyone is sad, and I am bouncing around like my 9 year old niece who is just happy to be hugging my mid section for the umpteenth time. The family then go to my brother and mother then fold into each other. I stare dumbly wondering what is wrong with me. But I don't notice that my eyesight skims over dads pictures and urn. I make sure my daughter is alright, showing her off to the family members that haven't seen her. She is my pride and joy. She is a good baby and I was told countless times. Then I saw her. My beautiful younger cousin. I hugged her and started to cry. She rocked me and sushed me like a child. I broke from her hug and hugged her hello. I was starting to crack. When people asked me how I was doing, the answer was now, 'it depends on the moment'. Off again to take care of my daughter. Funny how everyone wants to hold her but no one wants to change a diaper. So I break the spell of the funeral by going through the restaurant with a diaper bag, my baby in my sister in law's arms, my niece, nephew and husband. Why so many people, well the boys had to go to the washroom, my niece follows her little cousin almost as closely as she follows me and my sister in law was starting to take over baby duties so I can have my time to grieve with my family. Thank you so much for my sisters-in-law. For a few hours, they took care of her as if she were their own, diapers and all. Going back into the private room we had for the service, the room was heavy with grief. Clouds of sadness were accumulating above our heads as if each person brought their own cloud, and the more people crammed into the room, the clouds bumped into each other and threatened to break. Some would and there would be mini showers in different areas of the room. Now time for the eulogies. My uncle spoke about dad as a brother would of his younger brother. He gave the floor to a family friend, his sister, moms sister who had a hard time reading and made us cry, moms brother and finally my uncle read a poem. This poem made me sob. The words were something dad would say if he were a man of words. Then my husband read the poem my uncle wrote, but in a french translation. In 13 years I have never seen him cry. As he was reading, his voice caught, he took a deep breath as his lips quivered. I can see he is sad but he does not know what to do with this emotion, he didn't expect it to be so strong. I am sobbing, a comforting hand rubs my back and I am sobbing. My husband returns to the seat next to us and we sob in eachothre's arms. We made a line at the back of the restaurant, mom, my brother, and I. Sometime my sister in law was there and I'm not sure where my husband was but I know he was watching me. I sobbed in my cousins' arms, uncles, aunts. Then I was done, and hungry. The confusion of before the eulogy was gone. It was time to eat and laugh and catch up. My dad would have approved.
I don't want to believe he's gone. But I prepared his funeral, I prepared the keepsakes, I sat with him while he took his last breaths, I saw the shell of the man I knew when I left the hospital room. I know he's gone. But how do I live with a piece missing. I did not know that my parents' love and presence held a physical piece inside of me. I like there is a hole and it will take time to close up, but it will never completely close up. Right now it feels like every time I breathe I loose breath to that hole, and when I realize that I need that breath, well.....it is gone, like my father.