I don’t remember us leaving my Dad’s place of work and in all honesty I don’t remember much of anything. Perhaps the pain was too great, perhaps I surrendered by letting it engulf me into a soothing blanket of blocked and unaware bliss. I was in shock and to this day only a few details remain, but they are of such crystal clear clarity, you could think it only happened yesterday.I was lying in my grandparents bed, staring at the old cottage cheese texture that was covering the entire ceiling. Starched, crisp white linens with goose feather stuffed pillows and blankets cradled my body in comfort and warmth. Hands folded in prayer, I tried to convince myself that if I prayed to God long enough, asking him at least a hundred times, through begging and clenching my hands together as tight as I could, he would return my Dad and make this nothing more than a horrible nightmare. Of course that was not possible and nothing happened. I still hadn’t cried and no matter how much the internal pain was tearing me apart, I couldn’t produce one single tear. I was overwhelmed with feelings and I suffered through my emotions in silence and alone.
I was wishing my Dad hadn’t agreed to taking over this particular shift he was never suppose to work the begin with. I wished he wouldn’t have agreed so readily and I wished the other person would have worked it as scheduled instead of asking my Dad to cover. There was a brief rush of anger which quickly subsided as I felt ashamed for wishing that there was somebody else in his place, as it would mean that somebody else would have to die. And as much as I wanted my Dad to come back for selfish reasons, I couldn’t carry that burden, wishing bad for another person to be dead in his place. It somewhat amazes me now when I consider the way I was already thinking back then, as I was only ten, as I was only a child.
My maternal grandparents and my Mom were in the next room. I could hear their muffled voices but I wasn’t trying to listen to the conversation. I don’t know if anybody else was there, perhaps my godmother (my Moms sister) or perhaps my paternal grandfather who had to deliver the awful news, I don’t know. Life became pretty serious for me and it all happened pretty quickly. I now feel that it was the end of my childhood and I had to find a way to deal with adult issues of unimaginable consequences. My innocent childhood had not experienced any serious issues until now and was allowed to live carefree. In one instant my protector, my best friend and my hero was gone and everything went up in smoke to vanish from my life. I understood enough of what had happened, but there was no way for me to grasp the severity at that age. I had to become an adult and somewhere there is a little child trapped inside of me who never got to live out her innocent childhood. She surfaces from time to time and even my voice changes as if I was back experiencing those worry free childhood days. All is well, I’m overcome by emotions to witness something grant while not having a single worry in the world. I’m at peace and blissfully I enjoy those short lived moments of which meaning I never shared with anyone and perhaps only I can recognize.
What came next was the funeral and still I did not cry. I heard the pastor read bible versus and talk about my Dad being taken way too soon. I noticed the choir, formed by the village children which I belonged to. Maybe that was my second job, singing at funerals and making a couple pennies, yet never understanding or realizing the pain of the families that we were singing for. It felt strange to be in the other side, to be the one who had lost a loved one. I would never look at this in a way of earning a few pennies again. One by one people started to step up to the grave, throwing dirt and a flower onto the casket that was already lowered. All eyes were on me, who was next to step up and the entire community watched as I said goodbye to my Dad. I wished I would have been alone with him so I could talk to him instead of feeling all the looks burning a hole into my soul. Still not a single tear and for the first time I felt as if society had expectation of me. I let fear creep up about what others may think of me. Wasn’t the expectation that I had to mourn the death of my Dad, wasn’t I suppose to publicly display my pain by weeping out of control? Did it not matter that he was gone, was I not close to him? The thoughts rushed through my mind and of course I knew the answers, but did anybody else? It was the first time I felt I had to justify myself, perhaps explain myself but of course I didn’t do either and simply turned around to step down. My Mom held my hand and while I was looking at her it was the only time that I ever saw her cry.
Her feelings would be under lock for all future to come and we would never ever talk about my Dads death. She grieved alone and I know today she did it, hoping to be strong for me.
For me it was the first scar to cross my heart, my first experience with loss and I was alone to deal with it.