Sunday, September 19, 2010

And so it goes

It’s been 2 ½ months since my Father passed away. About a month after his death, I received a booklet in the mail from the “Hands of Christ” group at my church. It was a booklet on grieving, with promises of more booklets to come.

Life continues to be a challenge. Who doesn’t have challenges in their life? Since my Father’s death, I’ve negotiated several “life events,” including sending the second of our four children off to college, experiencing some personal health issues and going back to school myself. I guess I’ve been distracted from the “task” of grief.

Tonight I was at a fundraising event for an organization called NewSpring, whose goal is to revitalize Spring Branch, which is where our church is located. I ran into a Pastor whom I met through another Spring Branch group comprised of people in ministry. He knew that my Dad had died and asked how I was. I told him that oddly, I had dreamt about my Dad the last two nights. I also mentioned the booklet I had received; how I had read about ¾ of it and found, emotionally, that I could not finish it. He gently reminded me that, especially for people in ministry, we have to take care of ourselves and do the difficult work of grieving.

I heard a sermon on Saturday in which the pastor was commenting on our society’s tendency to share everything. He used the acronym TGIF – twitter, google, instant messaging and facebook. He asked, When was the last time you kept something to yourself and didn’t share it with anyone? So I am reluctant to write about any of this.

But on the other hand, my Pastor friend tonight encouraged me to do the work of grieving; and for me, for someone who finds “life” in written expression, this blog serves that purpose well.

The cable went out tonight and we couldn’t watch our “favorite” TV show. So … I finished reading the booklet. I couldn’t get past 4 words without the tears welling up. I am mystified. Years ago, I used to wonder if I would cry at my Father's funeral (I did). It seems I need to get a handle on exactly what I am grieving.

I never felt particularly close to my Father; yet he was my Father. I was always more of the parent in our relationship; yet he was my Father. He manipulated, he whined, he used guilt, he burdened me with his grown-up problems at a young age; yet he was my Father. He always talked about himself, rarely asked about me; yet he was my Father. He practiced performance-based love and I could never quite measure up; yet he was my Father. Even a man who didn’t meet my expectations, my emotional needs for a Father -- even such a man should not have to go through the indignity and suffering that he did as he slowly died of Alzheimer’s.

After all, he was my Father.

I will never have the Father I wanted or needed. Frankly, I ask God at times, why is that? Why was I deprived of this need in my life? How might my life have been different if the situation had been otherwise? I will never know.

And so this strange journey of vaporous grief continues. When I attend to it, it is quite painful indeed. I know I can't keep dodging. If nothing else, I suppose that realization is a good thing …

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