it has been ten days since my father died. just two days since we buried him.
it was so much harder than i thought it would be. i am more sad than i thought i could be...i am not as rational as i assumed i would act. i am blown away at the experience as a whole. my brother and his wife, my sisters and my neice....my mother. all being together and sharing our loss. our memories. sharing food and lots of drinks...my father had been in the army when he was very young. he served in Korea. he was a POW. all life changing things. he was buried with military honors. in a field along side other men and women who served and sacrified for their country..along side my uncle. my sweet uncle whom we all loved so.
at the grave side service, we were greeted quietly by two soldiers..who pulled my father from the car..they needed extra people to guide the coffin..of course my brother went forward.always the man to do the right thing..or the thing needed. and he quietly called out "River! want to help me? put your hand on. Jessica, help us." my little son took his uncle's hand and walked up to help guide his grandpa's coffin. the man played "taps". they took the flag off my father's coffin and folded it tightly. the one soldier..a very young man...took to one knee, in front of my mother, handed her the flag and thanked her for my father's service. she swallowed hard. i heard my sister cry. my other sister's shoulders were shaking. my neice was wiping her eyes. i cried into my son's shirt. i held my daughter's hand.the whole thing was more powerful than i could have ever imagined.i experienced it all as a daughter and a sister.
but it is what i learned as a mother that has encouraged me the most...has given me hope for the future..my daughter was apprehensive through out the day. understandably. still able to give what we all needed. love..mixed in with her quirky weird way. but it was my son. my small son..who taught me so much in these days. a dead man in a box, no matter who it is, can be frightening to a little one. or to a big one honestly.. but there he was..right there with us all at the wake. not afraid of the dead. not afraid of the quiet. totally comfortable and not completely unaware that this was a solem time. but there he was..sweet and loving. not totally silent. as the pastor prayed for our family, for every name he recognized he put his fist in the air and emphaticly said "YES!" he clapped after a lady sang a quiet song...and he walked right up to the casket, patted it, put his little hat in on my dad's arm and said "goodbye grandpa" and gave a silly little Benny Hill kind of a wave. as we walked away, he said "i like that pretty man". even then, in his child-ness, he as able to see beauty in the moment. he allowed himself to be just who he was. i admired him so much for what he gave us in those two days. he helped us to be just who we needed to be too..he was encouraging and sensitive. he helped when he was asked to..i got a glimpse of the kind of man he could be. the next one to always do the right thing, the thing needed.
i am really sad that my dad died...and in the same breath, i can say i am grateful for what i have learned the past few months..experiencing my sisters and my brother, my children and my husband..loving me. i have never felt so connected to a group of people in my life. i think my dad would be happy that in his last days here..was able to connect us all in that way.