Thursday, May 17, 2007

An Open Note of Thanks

I've had such an overwhelming response from friends during this trying time, and I want to deeply thank everyone for every word, thought, and prayer. Our family, while still grieving, is so held up right now my our community, both near and far.

After being awake around 40 straight hours, I finally slept last night. I was so afraid to sleep... every time I had tried, I could shake thoughts of Dad and images of him during his final week and especially final hours and even minutes. I ended up sleeping with Mom, harkening back to childhood days of nightmares and monsters under beds. I worried that it would be too much for me to sleep in my Dad's spot, but maybe my overall fatigue allowed me to sleep quickly and soundly through most of the night.

I still have much to write about his final hours - there were many things that night that were mystical and one could say providential. His leaving us is much too soon, and it still often seems like I am writing about someone else's life, yet the pain is surely mine. During his illness, I never felt that this was necessarily "unfair," and I was not angry. But confronting the loss, I'll admit that I do have some of those feelings. I know that much healthier men have gone younger than Dad, and I know we live in a world of constant tragedy (and hopefully constant redemption). Still, when it happens to you, it is hard not to wish for what is otherwise and feel like justice was somehow not done. He was far too young and this all happened far too quickly. But these feelings are part of the grieving process, I suppose.

But back to the thanks, I appreciate all the love and support. I have gotten wonderful emails and calls, and there are even friends of mine coming this weekend from as far as Chicago and Washington, DC. I feel that in that way - as my Mom pointed out - I can be a testament to my Dad, who was my model for being friendly, outgoing, and genuinely liked by those he knew. I can't tell you the times so far that people in my folks' little town and their apartment complex have told me stories about how my Dad helped them in a pinch or went out of his way to be a friend and neighbor or picked them up with a joke or story, often done so that no one knew about but Dad and the person helped or encouraged. He was just so genuinely liked here, and I feel like this entire town - in some collective way - is grieving his loss and will not quite be the same now.

There is so much more to share - I have over 20 pages of notes to sift through, including several hand-written ones from the night he died when I couldn't sleep and kept vigil by his bed. For my own sake, I'll get to them. There are also ample memories and remembrances, as I'm sure there will continue to be as more family and friends roll in, especially starting today. Emotionally, Sunday's service seems in my next lifetime, but a day at a time.

Thanks again, all. I love you.


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