Friday, December 28, 2007

164 First Christmas with no dad

We had our first Christmas without my dad. As most of you know, I'm a pagan, so I don't celebrate Christmas as a holiday--no tree or anything--but every year I do go to my parents' house and have a big lunch with my husband's family and my grandma, pretty much like Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving was weird because my dad was alive, but not there. For Thanksgiving, my mother-in-law brought mounds of shrimp cocktail, which was what my dad always ate (he'd eat just shrimp cocktail if given the chance!), and mostly it just sat there. I felt awful because I wanted to pack it up and bring it to him, but of course he wasn't eating anymore and died a few days later, so there was no way he could have enjoyed the shrimp even if we pureed it.
Christmas was sadder, because he wasn't alive or there. And there was the plate of damn shrimp. Does she not learn? Only my dad ate it. My mom had been halfway through decorating for the holiday when he died, and she thought it was ghoulish to have everyone over after the service with her happy decorated house but it also felt stupid to take it all down. My grandmother wanted a tree, so she put it up.
But of course no one really talked about my dad. I don't think people know what to say. My mom did say that she meant this year to be his last Christmas at home--she was going to start looking for a nursing home in January. So none of us knew last year was his last set of holidays. . . but then again, you never know, do you?
It was also weird because it was basically the 1 month anniversary of him dying too--Nov 26 to Dec 25.
His wedding ring is still MIA. Months ago, he went to bed with it on one night and woke up without it. My mom had stripped the bed, shook out the sheets, looked under the bed and still hasn't found it. She did find his old Red Sox hat (the one I wanted to burn with him) and it's on top of his cremains box on her dresser. The hat was hidden somewhere bizarre; I forget where she told me she found it.
My husband asked me if I missed my dad and I said no without really thinking about it. And he gave me this look, like "how could you say that?" and I explained, also without thinking about it: "He's been gone a long time."
I have his obituary tacked on the bulletin board next to my desk at work and I just love the slightly goofy picture of him I picked, of him hugging his cat. Mostly when I look at the picture, I smile.
I've talked about grief in general and my grief specifically with some of my friends. Grief is a selfish thing. We're sad because we don't have the person anymore. We're not sad because that person has lost everything s/he loved, sunsets and soft kittens and cold beer (although I'm sure they have plenty of the latter at the Elsewhere Bar)--and that's the true tragedy--but because we have a hole in our lives shaped like the one we've lost.
The hole in me where my dad was isn't even dad-shaped. It's just a blob. As my dad wore away, I became less dependent on him. I needed him less because I was forced to go to others for the things he used to do for me. (Buying a car without him is going to be a nightmare. I'll miss him that day, that's for sure.)

1 comment:

Mauigirl said...

I know how weird it is when someone is gone but not gone (as your dad was for Thanksgiving). My dad was already in the nursing home for two sets of holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas) before he finally died in January of 05. And of course by the second set of holidays, his personality had dissolved pretty much completely. So like you, after he died I didn't "miss" him in the usual way. I missed him more when he was alive and not himself. When I'd think of something that he would have liked in the past, and think "Oh, I should get that for Daddy" and remember "Oh yeah, he doesn't care about that anymore..." Strangely in some ways I've felt closer to him now that he's gone than I did when he was still alive in the nursing home. I start to hear his voice in my head again.

I hope you have gotten through the holidays OK. Thinking of you...