Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of my father’s death. I noted it at 6:31 a.m. as I was getting ready for church. It was soon before or after six in the morning that the phone rang and woke me that Sunday morning, five years ago. When I heard my sister’s voice I was confused because I thought she was sleeping in the basement but she had awoken early and driven to the hospital to wait with my mom. They were there when he died.
I had noted the anniversary several months ago when I was scheduled for early morning prayer at church, on the date. A couple people walk through every room in the church, praying, before the services. When it is my turn I often sit through at least two and sometimes three of the services and it is usually apparent why I am hearing a particular sermon more than once. I wondered if yesterday’s services would have any connection with my father’s anniversary, but they didn’t really. The sermon was quite good, but not related and nothing connected or highlighted the marking of the day.
Torey and I had talked about getting together and having our version of the Don Wolfe Film Festival that my brothers always have out in California on Dad’s birthday in September. Torey is trying to find a way to honor and remember Dad, especially with her girls. I don’t feel that compulsion. Yesterday, after church, I was tired and just wanted to relax. I called Torey and told her I wasn’t up for the DWFF and she understood.
Some feelings definitely came up last week with the death of Tim Russert and I had a couple dad related cries, but that was it and without that projection I don’t know if I would have cried around this time at all.
One thing, that I have never thought of is that the eve of and day of his death is the Summer Solstice. Tanner kept vigil the two nights between removing Dad’s life support and the morning of his death. Up until then I had been obsessed with the thought of Dad dying alone and wept every time I considered it. But when I told Paul my fears he said, “Babe, he’s not going to be alone, when he dies. Even if one of us isn’t there, Jesus will be.” Pretty much anything, any one said to me sounded like a poor platitude, but this gave me pause. I knew it was true and I felt reprieved from keeping vigil. Eden was a newborn and I had been balancing her needs with my father’s months and months of dying and the burden was becoming too much to bear. Friday night and Saturday night I went home to sleep and Sunday morning, June 22, 2003, he was gone. It was the longest day of the year.
It was the longest day.
I like to know now that my brother’s vigil was the shortest night.
I like to think that the longest day also means the most light.
I am glad to finally see that we removed the life support on a Friday and that he was alive in Christ on Sunday.
I am thankful to know that the mourning is, for the most part, complete. And yet I know that, in some ways, it will never truly end until I am, in death, fully alive too.