|Me, Mom & Dad, Summer 2009|
Three years ago, today, just after the 12th slipped into the 13th, my beloved father died.
Every year since then it has been a day of mourning and reflection for me, becoming a little less intense with each passing year, but still the ache remained acute.
But this year, today felt very odd, eclipsed by my mother's much more recent passing - nearly two months ago on January 17th.
My mother's death still hangs over me, feels much more recent still than two months.
If I close my eyes and think of her, I am, unfortunately, transported back to the final minutes of her life. That moment when her heart snapped and everything changed is burned deep into my mind's screen, sharp and bright, hopefully to be fading in intensity over the coming years.
But for now I remain somewhat ghost-ridden.
I regretted not being there, by my father's side as he passed. I had taken my first break in months, and many people told me that they think that allowed him to finally let go, that my absence was giving him permission to die.
He managed to do it quietly, with no one there to witness. My sister Lois had gone to the bathroom down the hall, and said she felt a wave of heat and nausea pass over her, out of nowhere, at what she later calculated was probably the moment of his leaving, for when she came back into his room, he was gone, my mother unaware, fallen asleep sitting upright in the chair by his side.
At the time I felt like had missed out on something.
Now I'm not so sure.
The look on my mother's face as her eyes popped open, bugged out, unseeing, as she huffed and puffed as her heart was literally bursting, is something that will probably haunt me for the rest of my days.
I can talk about it most freely with my cousin Jessica, who, as an ER doctor, is no stranger to death. Other people I know I will creep out, make uncomfortable, so I hold this moment silently, in my mind and heart. But there it remains, indelible, most every day.
Even today, when I feel I should be remembering, mourning my father, yet still, my mother and her death hangs over all.
Though it is comforting to think back on the two of them at the same time, for they were such an entwined and loving couple. Fifty one years together.
I don't know where our spirit, our essence, goes when we pass. Truly I don't. I feel something remains, for I felt it leave my mother, witnessed how her body was just so much lumpen clay after it was gone.
And so, in the not knowing, I can only conjecture and hope that whatever wisp of energy that was my bright mother has found my father's counterpart out there, in the ethosphere, and their stardust particles are swirling about the universe in tandem, dancing together once more, forever.