On being okay and not

I’ve been okay. At least I think I have. I’ve been busy with that whole “getting on with life” business and though it’s not easy, I’m focusing on the things that matter. I’m finishing my assignments on time. I’m spending a lot of time with my husband and daughter. I can even take joy out of watching favorite TV shows again, which is something I couldn’t do right after my dad’s passing. These are all good things.

642449918_4a5b09ee0dBut there are moments when I am decidedly not okay. These moments sneak up on me like shadows. They wrap their arms around me when I least suspect it and I’m back in the convalescent home with my dad. Holding his hand for the last time. I’m seeing through my mind’s eye all the things he was trying to convey with body language. When he asked me, “How ya doin’?” and I said, “Oh, hanging in there,” he paused and chewed his lips for a second, seeming to search for words but never found them. I wonder if he was wanting to say, he wasn’t hanging in there? That he was slipping away?

I had a good cry last night. The first in a few weeks. Matt and I were watching an old episode of Bones. A Christmas episode, no less. The main plot revolved around Brennan coordinating a family gathering for Christmas, even though her father and brother were in prison. I felt a tinge of sadness, a bit of melancholy that I’d never have Christmas as I knew it as a child again. Even as a young adult, Christmas was a bright spot in the dreariness of that house. After opening gifts — which took forever because my mom’s OCD dictated it be done a certain way — and we ate — which also took forever, again mom’s OCD meant that her preparation of food had to be done just so — she would retreat to her bedroom and my dad and I would watch a movie one of us got as a present. We’d often watch more than one. It was tradition and one I enjoyed, at that. It was also one I thought I’d be able to live out again, someday.

But there is no going back.

So yes, the Christmas theme did make me a bit sad but what truly opened the floodgates was the closing scene of the show. Booth’s son Parker was supposed to spend Christmas in Vermont with his mother and her boyfriend but he found his way to the FBI to spend it with his dad. Booth is on the phone explaining this to his ex-wife, and father and son look so happy just to be together. It made me think of how my dad and I were a team. We did everything together.

My best memories are of him and I in the car, driving somewhere. Anywhere. That’s where our best, most honest conversations occurred.

And the thought that I’d never have those conversations again struck me in the chest. And I couldn’t stop the tears. I saw him in the casket in my mind so clearly at that moment. That eerie stillness. That, this is you but so very not you sensation that doesn’t make logical sense. That question of how a person can be here and then not in the blink of an eye. It all came back and washed over me like a tidal wave.

Moments like these bring to question my own mortality, too. One day, I will be old. One day I will be holding my dear daughter’s hand. Under different circumstances yes, but that “slow drawing down of blinds,”* is coming for me, too. Is that what makes an adult? That knowledge?

I’m still not sure. What I do know is most of the time I am okay. Sometimes I’m even thinking about my dad and I’m okay. And other times, I think of him and feel the loss, a lead weight pressing on my chest, and I’m not okay. That feeling will never be okay. And I know, years from now, I will think of him and feel the loss and not be okay, too. This is the new normal.

Image source: Conor Lawless