An overwhelming sense of disconnect, like an umbilical cord being wrenched unceremoniously from between parent and child, painfully tore at my soul as my father’s last breath announced his passing from this world to the next.
94 years of living a life so full and so ALWAYS THERE and now he is gone. I am an orphan, as are my siblings. The last few moments with him as my one hand gently brushed his forehead and the other hand was placed over his slowing heart, were a battle of conscience as I warred with myself to help him make the transition and my need to drag him back because I still needed my Daddy.
I had a dream.
“Dad, reach over the top of the gate. The latch is on the other side and you just need to lift it up. See? Mom is waiting over there – she’s sitting on that stool with her hand held out to you like you were seeing in YOUR dreams. Reach over and lift up that latch Dad. Wave goodbye to us – we are going to be okay. You did such a good job with your family. Your work is done. It’s okay, open the gate…go…take her hand.”
I heard myself uttering these words through my tears, hardly believing what I was saying. It was so hard! That is why I had the dream – I know that now. It was like an instructional video and I was supposed to say these things to him when the time came because he was a fighter and did not wish to leave his kids, as much as he has wanted to be with his one true love, our mother, his soul mate who left the world fourteen years prior. The gate was the barrier and he needed to know how to open that latch and hear from us that it was okay to do so.
One more breath. One more…..and it was the last. We felt his soul lift above us and away, leaving a flood of tears and mixed emotions of grief and pain but relief for him. As I cried in my brother’s arms, I wondered if it was all supposed to go that way. Did I say the right things? Did it help him? Did he feel us struggling to let him go but make him stay? I still had my moments of fear that he was alone. Maybe the gate didn’t open like it was supposed to.
He has given us some signs that all is well. I see them sometimes, beautiful faces with beautiful smiles. Young, holding hands and so proud of the life they lived. He’s okay. She’s okay. They are BETTER than okay. I hang onto that vision as that is what gets me through the days, one at a time. I am so lucky to have had my Dad for so long – others have not had the same fortune so I am thankful.
But now I need to adjust to being a new entity. I am an orphan. And I look at my own kids and wonder if they look to me as their anchor in this world….the one person they can go to when life deals them a bad hand. So how will it be for them when I am gone? I know this is normal and life goes on but I feel so vulnerable – like glass about to shatter. My own mortality looms like a tidal wave, waiting to swallow everything that I am and wash away all that I am still trying to become.
I give myself pep talks. I am my own walking self-help book on how to cope with death, grief, loss, pain. Hang onto that vision I say to myself! It’s all going to be just perfect and the world will go on, whether I’m in it or not.
But all I know right now, in this moment, until I can grab hold of that vision of the young happy couple together again, is that I am a little girl missing her Daddy. And I am an orphan. And I hope the gate opened with the latch like I promised him it would. Because one day, I will have to remember where that latch is.