(un)comfortably numb

My dad died on Sunday morning, December 9, at the age of 66.  My mom called me and told me the news.  It was a phone call I’d been waiting on for years and yet nothing could have prepared me for it.

We were in the car at that moment, on our way to church.  The very first thing I noticed was how, despite my sobs, the car kept moving.  I didn’t understand how the car was still moving, how the other cars on the road were still moving, how the minutes ticked by.  I think I probably expected something Rapture-like to accompany the news of my dad’s death and instead it was just another day in the world.

But for me it changed everything.  Now time and space are divided into two units: before his death and after his death, with the divide being the moment he died.

I didn’t want December 9th to end.  As the day darkened into night, my sorrow was unbearable.  The day was going to end, and I’d have to wake up to face another one.  Another day without my dad in the world.  The second day without my dad in the world.  But somehow I did it, I faced the second day, and then that day died, and now it’s day three, and the day has darkened into night, and tomorrow will be day four, and I will do that day too.  I’m a prisoner inside time.

I don’t suppose this would bother me so much if I didn’t feel so indifferent to everything.  I find myself doing regular things but I can’t seem to make myself care about most of them.  I check Facebook.  I don’t care about Elf on the Shelf, Christmas trees, what someone’s kids are doing, what hilarious image or video someone has shared.  I read articles and blog posts like usual but I can’t bring myself to share them.  I can’t bring myself to “like” anything.  I can’t bring myself to comment on anything except for anything related to this.

All that is to say is that grieving, I guess that’s what I’m doing, is extremely boring.  For someone like myself, who is so passionate about so many things, who loves to talk and connect and experience the world, to feel so indifferent and numb inside – it’s like being dead myself.  Or how I imagine it to be.  I cannot read for long, nor do I find much comfort in music or movies or anything else.  Every pastime that could be used as an escape or distraction ends up making me twitchy.  I can’t focus.  So I take naps at odd hours and stay up for most of the night, I hug and kiss my kids and my husband, I answer relevant phone calls and emails and texts and ignore everything else.  I found a beautiful unused journal in our filing cabinet and pulled it out so I could write in it, but the only thing I have managed to write, aside from this blog entry, is this:

December 9, 2012 is my dad’s date of death.

My dad died this morning.

My dad is dead.

Dead dad.

The truth is I don’t want to write in a journal about my feelings concerning my dad, his death, our relationship, etc.  I don’t want to do it.  I don’t want to do it because it can’t be real that he’s gone.  It can’t really have happened.  Could it have really happened?  Maybe it’s all some big sick joke and he really has busted out of the nursing home and is on the lam.

Or maybe he’s already in his coffin, waiting to be cremated, already decomposing.  He’s not ashes yet, I know that for sure.  So there’s a chance he could still pull through.  Right?

This is what it’s been like for me.  First there are these ridiculous stories I tell myself and then a moment later, I look at something completely unrelated to him and I realize that no matter what, I will never see him again, I will never see him again, I WILL NEVER SEE HIM AGAIN.  And that dissolves me.

I will never see my dad again.


10 thoughts on “(un)comfortably numb

  1. I know it was a complicated ending & relationship, but I’m so very sorry for your loss.

    And as cheesy as this may be, I’m reminded of a poignant scene from Grey’s Anatomy.

    CRISTINA: “There’s a club. The Dead Dads Club. And you can’t be in it until you’re in it. You can try to understand, you can sympathize. But until you feel that loss… My dad died when I was nine. George, I’m really sorry you had to join the club.”
    GEORGE: “I… I don’t know how to exist in a world where my dad doesn’t.”
    CRISTINA: “Yeah, that never really changes.”

    • You’re right, Cheney. I guess I just think it’s a little more obvious for me right now. Time drags. I count the days. I don’t really normally do that. I don’t normally sit around doing absolutely nothing. This is so different and it feels so horrible most of the time. Thanks for reading and for commenting.

  2. You’re in my thoughts everyday since I read your sad news. I know how you feel. I still remember exactly how I felt when I got the news that my Dad passed away. I was in the car coming back from Arizona. I was devastated even though we had an estranged relationship most of my life. For a long time I expected him to call me or stop by…I miss him every day. It does get easier my friend. I promise. It just takes time. I’m here if you need anything at all.

    • Thank you so much, Cynthia. Yeah, that whole being estranged thing doesn’t mean you feel the pain any less. It’s a hard situation to be in. I’m glad it’s gotten easier for you and I look forward to the day when it gets easier for me. xoxo

  3. Leslie, I am so sorry you are hurting so. I’m jealous. When my dad died 13 years ago it hurt but he wasn’t the kind of dad he was suppose to be and I was hurting for different reasons. I was always so envious of girls who had dads that they loved and adored and would be sorry when they were gone. You will see him again, just not soon enough for you. I truly believe in spirits and have seen ghosts. I hope you don’t think I’m crazy but I believe he is around you and knows you are grieving. I talked to my dad for months after he died out loud in my house and I KNOW he heard me. Try it if you haven’t yet. It made me feel so good. I love you so much!!! Jan

    • Thank you so much, Jan. I’m sorry that your dad wasn’t the dad he should have been to you. There’s just no way around saying it: that sucks. My dad actually wasn’t the dad he should have been to me either. He lived with some pretty significant brain trauma for the last 30 years of his life that left him unable to be a real dad to me and my brother. He could do the basic things to take care of himself but he really did become a child in a man’s body. He had a very violent temper and sometimes he was downright scary to be around. He just didn’t know how to express himself in a calm or rational way, thanks to all the brain damage he suffered. As a child it just about broke me. I really, really needed him to be my dad. It broke my heart that he couldn’t be and that in our relationship, I was more adult than he was. I understand those feelings of jealousy you’re talking about. I couldn’t watch Father of the Bride without bawling because I knew it would never be like that for us. It was so very difficult. As I grew up and his condition deteriorated, I was able to work through all those childhood feelings of sadness and anger, and I developed a real sense of compassion for him and his suffering. Our relationship was complicated and limited, and I think I’ll always mourn that in some way. But he never would have chosen for it to be that way. It was just what happened, because of his illness. There’s much more grieving to be done, I know, and I’m not looking forward to it. But I have no choice, and in the end, I’m happy to do it because it means he’s at peace and no longer suffering. There was far too much of that in his life, and it never felt fair. I love you too. Thanks for your comment.

  4. I am so sorry my friend. I could have written this post myself the days after my dad died. It felt just as devastating. Time does help, but I still have these days.
    Let’s do this together. ❤

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