#1 – Daydream about trying work on your novel, exercise, go for walks, but find it impossible to do anything routine–work, engage in conversation like a normal person–because mourning is like being on a different planet. Gravity’s different. The landscape is different. Everything feels far from home.
#2 – Quietly thank people for their condolences and quickly walk away because you don’t want to cry in front of them.
#3- Genuinely miss your Dad. Growing up, he was The One Person who made you feel unconditionally loved. Laughed at your jokes, listened when you spoke, spent time with you after work and on weekend mornings, taught you how to be goofy–experimental Saturday morning pancakes made with Coca Cola, anyone?
#4 – Be surprised at the emotions you feel beyond sadness and nostalgia–resentment being the most odious one. Resentment that your mom returned to her beloved Japan ten years ago, staying married to Dad while leaving him to grow old and sick alone in Florida while he paid her expenses and all he got in return was a weekly phone call. Resentment that Mom’s lavish lifestyle drained all Dad’s money and inheritance while he worried his retirement income wouldn’t be enough. Resentment that now there’s no inheritance left except the house. Yes, those are true feelings. Amid all that ugliness. . .
#5 – You feel so grateful for following intuition and leaving your family behind in California for three weeks during the holidays to stay with Dad in Florida—even though he grumbled and protested. Grateful because you ended up really helping him with things he was too tired and weak to do (or admit) anymore, and you gave him comfort (nightly back scratches being his favorite). Grateful because just five days after you returned home, your Dad died, but you’ll always have those last weeks together, so no regrets.
#6 – You’re surprised that, even though you’re typically an introvert, you crave being around people right now.
#7 – You’re touched by how your dad’s friends and acquaintances whom you call to notify of his death all see past the crotchety old guy he became due to long-term illness and know his big, loving heart in a way you thought only you did.
#8 – You clam up and can’t talk because. . . emotions.
#9 – Your head spins over how complicated it is to deal—while mourning– with the complicated mess of ensuring Dad’s retirement survivor benefits and bank balances get to your Mom who’s housebound 10,000 miles away in Japan but who never gave you Power of Attorney to legally handle the finances.
#10 – Listen to Mom cry on the phone long distance, asking if she can have Dad’s cremated ashes. Look up how much it will cost to ship them to Japan.
#11 – Figure out how to maximize long weekends and school breaks so you can fly back to Florida, arrange a Celebration of Life ceremony, ship ashes, donate clothes, get the house ready to sell, and take care of your dad’s estate without missing time and losing your job.
#12 – And for some darn reason, you really want Dad’s 16-year-old Toyota. Maybe because driving and road trips were always a big part of his identity.
#13 You write this.
— Eve Messenger (in honor of my dad who passed away peacefully on January 11, 2017 and is the reason for any good qualities I might have)