Life Goes On and On and On and On… More Reflections on the Death of a Parent
Today I saw my father-in-law for the first time since my father passed away. He was kind and sympathetic. He told me a brief story about his father’s death in the hall near the balustrade before he left for work. For him, it felt momentous. He described it as “this horrible thing that had happened.” He officially became the oldest male in the family. He felt a deep emptiness afterward. But the hardest part for him wasn’t necessarily that his father was gone, but how the world just kept moving on.
As he put it, this horrible thing had happened. He and his family were forever altered. But the world did not really care. Sure, they cared for a bit. The cards, calls, and flowers came for a bit. But the unceasing movement of life just kept going. And soon no one asked about his father.
As I think about this now as I write, I am nearly moved to tears. I’m struggling with that fact– the fact that life just goes on despite your pain. The world has started to move on since my dad’s death. Hell, I’ve started to move on. I left my mother’s place yesterday after spending 5 weeks there. My mom cried as I left and thanked me for being there. I felt overwhelming guilt leaving her. But there was nothing to do. I had to leave. Life moves forward. It is just the way. Evolution tells us everything grows otherwise it dies.
So I move forward. I’m spending a much-needed week off near some nature this week. This morning I stared out onto the Fraser River and the Pacific Ocean, watched the glimmer of water waves ripple up and down. I cried as I thought about my father and wondered where he was. I cried thinking about our last weeks together. I cried thinking about one of the last conversations we had in November when I came home for Thanksgiving. My mom went to pick up some Hunan food, and I sat with him in the living room.
He opened up to me that day. He told me his heart hurt with sadness. That he was unhappy. That things with his wife, our mom, had deteriorated badly. I didn’t say much. I just mostly listened. I think I told him I was sorry. But that was about it.
I don’t know why that makes me so sad to think about now. I suppose it was because my dad’s last few years on earth, maybe his last few decades on this…