Well, it’s been three weeks since Dad passed away. I spent two weeks at home and have been back in DC for a week. The first week was a blur. There were so many emotions, so many decisions to make, and so many things to do that it all just ran together. Mom and I would get several things done each day, but we’d eventually hit a wall and would just be too fried to do much else that involved thinking or deciding anything.
We held a visitation on Friday and the funeral was on Saturday. It was so good to see so many people turn out for both and to hear so many stories from people who knew him from work, community service, etc. I’d heard some of the stories, but heard a lot of new stories, too. I was also impressed by the wide range of people who showed up, from the current mayor and a county judge, colleagues from all levels at the agency where Dad worked, friends from church and community service organizations, to a group of mentally handicapped residents from a group home of the agency Dad directed.
The second week was a bit less hectic but still plenty of work to do. There was stuff to do around the house, administrative things to work on, and things like cleaning out Dad’s office at work. It seemed like most of the things we set out to do ended up taking longer than expected, but we got a lot done. It was also a chance for the loss to sink in a bit more and without as much chaos.
Then, Saturday, I headed back to DC and went back to class on Monday. It’s been good to be back in to a routine, but it’s also weird to be in an environment where everything’s normal and no one else knew Dad or has been affected by Dad’s passing. I also wish that I could be home and helping my mom with the things that she’s having to do, like finishing cleaning out my Dad’s office, some of the paperwork, etc. But, everyone’s been very nice and very supportive. The econ teachers and my classmates have been great about letting me copy notes, helping me catch up, etc. Nicole at Kids with Diplomatic Immunity took wonderful care of the Diplocat while I was gone and Sadie at Sadie Abroad picked me up at the airport when I got back to DC. And, many others have checked in on me and offered some type of help.
I’m also back to the unpacking. My HHE arrived a little over a week before Dad passed away and I left town for two weeks, so there’s still most of it left to unpack and last night I tackled a few of the kitchen boxes. In one of those boxes was my “Brave Little Toaster.” When I moved in to my first apartment, my parents gave me some of their old kitchen items and I’ve replaced or upgraded some of them, but I still have a bunch of them. One of the things that I still have is a metal toaster, not too different from the toaster in the Brave Little Toaster movie, that Dad bought at a garage sale when he was in graduate school. I’m not sure when he got it, but it must have been in the 1960s, and it was used at that point, so who knows how old the thing is. It’s a bit annoying to use it because, while the heating coils still work fine, sometimes the lever won’t stay down on its own and you have to stand there and hold it down if you want it to toast something.
But, even before Dad passed away, I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of it because of its history, even though I know a newer toaster would work better, and now I certainly can’t. Realizing what was in the paper as I unwrapped it, I couldn’t help but tear up and eventually start to full-on cry. So, even though I’m back to my normal routine and am doing pretty well for the most part, there are still things that trigger some memory or some thought about the permanence of Dad’s passing and result in tears, like finding the Brave Little Toaster that Dad had rescued from some garage sale probably somewhere around 50 years ago, repaired, used for many years, and then passed on to me.
So, the grieving process is a journey with ups and downs and will continue to be so for awhile, I’m sure.