It’s been almost 6 months since that fateful knock on the door. I’ll never forget the look on my brother and my sisters face when I opened my door. All I remember is asking “What happened?” All I remember them saying is “Dad is gone.” Then I remember them hugging me, my knees buckling and someone (maybe me?) saying “No, no, no…”
I’d like to say that it gets easier everyday. I’d like to say that I’ve moved past the anger and bitterness of having my Pop ripped from my life and my sons lives at the ripe, young age of 65. I’d like to say that I don’t cry everyday anymore, but I would be lying a big fat lie. Our family which used to be one very strong unit is incomplete and still reeling in the grief and the change. I’m dreading the holidays. We are spending them together as a family. That is all we know. The only thing that will get us over this hump that is the next 2 months, is by being together. We always made fun of Mom growing up because whenever anything went wrong (like the car breaking down in the middle of nowhere at night with 4 kids and 2 golden retrievers) she would be quoted as saying “At least we’re all together.” We would mimic her, rolling our eyes as we said it in her sugary sweet and optimistic tone. Now it’s been our mantra since May, but worded a bit differently; “At least we’re all together… except for Dad… he’s gone… in Heaven… you cant hear his voice or feel his hugs anymore because he’s gone-forever.” Just doesn’t sound like it did back in my carefree childhood days- the one where Dad was always a phone call away, ready with his wisdom, good advice, a hug and always a smart ass comment. It’s hard to let that sink in, to have it envelope your identity and to move on from saying “Mom and Dad” or “Grandma and Grandpa” to just “Mom” or “Grandma.” My hardest adaption is reverting anything pertaining to my dad to past tense. He was, not is. He used to, not does. It’s also like reliving that fateful day when I get asked about him from someone either knowing he passed or not knowing, in the end it’s all the same and hurts the same. He was well known around here, so a simple trip to the grocery store always has the possibility of ending with me leaving in tears due to those encounters. Almost 6 months and I still get those questions. I dread those more than the holidays and tend to avoid locals like the plague.
I picked up my son Conner from school today. He made me smile as he spotted my car from across the parking lot. He waved and grinned his huge Fahey grin. When we Faheys smile, our whole face scrunches up and our eyes disappear into our heads- he has the Fahey smile. I’m so thankful for that because sometimes I can see my Dad in his little face, especially that little twinkle in his eye. He looks like a mini clone of my Pop at times. As he got into the car, we did our usual “How was school” discussion while I’m driving him to his after school class. He looks at me and says his old friend was at school. Well, I know quite well after speaking with this friend’s Mom when we moved that so and so does not go to Con’s new school. I ask Conner if he’s fibbing, he smiles his Fahey smile… “Mom I’m teasing like Grandpa teases me all the time.” I was a bit taken back as today was an okay day and I had only been sad a few times this morning thinking of Dad. Conner doesn’t normally open up too much about his Grandpa. I think it’s because I always well up with tears when he brings Dad up, even though I try to hide them, he’s a smart kid and doesn’t like to see me sad. So, taking a big breath after being caught off guard I reply “Oh really, Conner? So Grandpa is teasing you from Heaven then?” “Yeah Mom, sometimes I hear his voice in my head teasing me like he used to. He’s pretty funny and he tells me that he watches over me and you and our whole family. We get to see him when we go to Heaven. Did you know that? That’ll be cool, huh Mom?” Ouch, here comes the grief, that overwhelming sense of loss and sadness. Thankfully I was stopped at a red light when he told me this. All I could do was look out my window and let the tears fall while softly nodding and answering with my tears hidden from him “Yes son, that would be wonderful.” I wish I could be so accepting of Dad’s death like my son is.
My 6 year old taught me an invaluable lesson today in which I am certain was sent from my Dad and Jesus. Through the eyes of my son, it’s as easy as this; Grandpa died, but he’s an Angel, our Guardian Angel. He is still here if you look around and notice the little signs or listen to the little voice that pops into your head and your heart sometimes. He’s in Heaven and we are still here, but one day we will all be together again and it’s going to be “cool.”