The last goodbye

Today is Dad’s funeral. I feel heart-sick and soul-lost, even though I know where, and with whom, I am.

I went to visit him yesterday at the funeral home, with a stained-glass windowed room and a cd playing pretty, flowery, instrumental music that I didn’t think I’d ever appreciate as much as I did. I processed my feelings in the only way I knew how: I wrote. This is it.

He doesn’t look like Dad any more, although looking at old photos that I do remember and seeing a face I don’t remember, I wonder if he ever did look like my dad. I don’t know.

He’s not there, anyhow.

I don’t know why I’m crying. Maybe it’s because he looks so old and small and frail and broken and used. Seventy eight years that body did him. That’s more than most cars get. More than fridges and washing machines. Not that they had them seventy eight years ago, not when Dad was a baby.

His lips look wrong, and he’s fuller in the face than he was even a week ago, when I last saw him alive. I think that’s probably fluid or some such thing. I don’t think it’s the undertaker’s fault.

It doesn’t look like Dad. He looks like the wax models we saw at Madame Tussauds in Hollywood, some of them just not quite, in the subtlest way, who they should be.

He’s not Dad. He’s not there any more.

God his nose is big.

The top of his head is blotchy and freckled and age-spotted from years of sun and baldness, and funnily enough that’s the thing that’s most familiar to me, that head he rubbed so much. They shaved him smooth on the face. It looks kind of weird too, even though he’s never had a  beard, and once when I was little he threatened to grow one and I screamed and cried because I knew that my daddy with a beard wouldn’t be my daddy any more, and he didn’t.

And now he isn’t. So many times this week I’ve questioned how well I really knew him. I don’t know. Maybe I never will. What I do know is this: I don’t want to wipe those tears and pack up these feelings and walk out like this has never happened. I don’t want to say goodbye. I feel like I’ve been still waiting for a chance to say a proper “hello”.

Hello Dad.

I hope you’re well now. You’d be pleased to know they’ve got your neck straight now, and I polished your shoes before I gave them to the funeral home. I can’t remember if I gave them your belt, but you’re not going anywhere so your trousers won’t fall down.

Your coffin is nice, it’s a dark wood with nice silver handles. Well, I can tell by the corner that it’s laminate, and the handles are probably plastic, but it looks nice, and it still cost the earth. We didn’t go for the cheapest one there because it was a bit ugly really, and you deserved better than ugly. We chose you some nice flowers for tomorrow too, some blue things, and some lilies. Your lid will be on then, but I’ll know you’re in there.

I bought myself some new shoes for tomorrow too, red ones. They’re really nice. You’d like them. And Christmas was nice, but I missed you. I bought you a calendar, and some new socks – good ones. I opened a pair of the nicest colour and gave them to the funeral home with your other things. I hope you like them.

Well, that’s that I guess. I guess I’ll see you in Heaven, but I can’t think about that right now.

I’ll see you tomorrow, for the funeral.

Thanks for being my dad and all. You did all right. Thanks for teaching me how to follow my dreams.

I’m going to get a coffee.

Love always,

Megan xxx

USA trip Nov 2012 041

R.I.P. James Cameron

I’m not going to blog today.

Yesterday we found Dad dead in his bed. We didn’t really realise how sick he’d been. Neither did he. He’d only been living here in Tassie for a few months, after 25 years on the other side of the country.

I miss him already, and feel the guilt for all the times I didn’t call, or didn’t make more effort. I didn’t know our time was nearly up.

Dad

This is an old pic, taken the last time he came down on holiday, back when he had energy, and loved to play games. I wish he’d moved back then.

I wish he didn’t have to go.

I pray he’s free now, and he’s got his neck straight. It always bothered him, that.

Miss you Dad. Love you.

Megan.

Raising cats and compost

A few years ago my next door neighbour’s cat died. Her name was Lucy, and she was a short-haired calico. The cat, that is, not my next-door neighbour.

My daughter was four. She was sad, because our cat had died barely a year before, and this time my daughter had a new arsenal of knowledge under her belt: she insisted that I go round to my next door neighbour’s house and pray for the revival of the cat.

Ummm…

Because God can do anything, Mummy. Don’t you believe that?

Well, yes, I do believe that. And yes, I believe that the power of God can raise people – and even cats – from the dead, and that if we have that power living in us then yes, we too can see cats raised from the dead. We’re big on faith, our family.

But…ummm…

Now I’m not ashamed of my faith. Hell, we had our family photo plastered across a double-page spread of the paper as a representation of a Christian Family In An Age of Declining Faith! But still, going to visit my non-Christian next-door-neighbour in post-Christian Australia to tell him God’s going to raise his cat from the dead…ummmm…

Some things just need to stay dead. And that’s OKAY.

I’m remembering this today, because there’s something else that died a few years ago – eighteen years ago to be exact – and by now it’d be pretty darn smelly if it were to get up and start wandering round the grass again, and that’s exactly what it’s threatening to do. It’s a dream I used to have. Something I loved. Something I used to believe in. Something that died, and I grieved, and allowed new dreams to grow from the compost of what used to be.

Except now the new dream is wilting, its last bright petals shriveled and dancing to the dirt, to be swallowed by the compost, and suddenly I see that the compost that birthed it is stirring to life again, and is wanting to walk. This has happened before, with something else. It hurt. A lot. Some things need to stay dead.

But when I look back at that time, with the Something Else, the dead thing that walked, no matter how much it hurt at the time, I’m a better person, a happier person, because of it. Yes, it was smelly. And pretty ugly at first, but it grew into something beautiful. It grew into me.

I’m sad for the wilting dream, and, smelly though it may be, I’m just a bit excited about the walking compost in my heart. I’m glad there’s a time for resurrection.

My next-door-neighbor moved out a few years ago, and all that’s left of him is a memory, and a scrawled note on the bottom of the fence that I can see from the kitchen window. It says “Lucy Girl”, and it marks the place where the little calico cat is buried. There’s a beagle in the garden now, and much mud and compost. I’m hoping that the beagle doesn’t turn into a digger – things could get interesting (and smelly). But a pertinent reminder: even now, in God’s universe, it’s never too late.