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Thursday Morning

On April 8, 2008, in Uncategorized, by Meghan
18

Because my readership has increased to people well beyond my close friend network, I’ve grown hesitant to share some life details. I do have the desire to maintain a semblance of personal privacy; but, more than anything, I seek to protect my feelings just a bit from that big, wide world of people that I don’t know. I’m sure you can understand, then, the hesitancy I feel in posting this entry.

Two years ago this Thursday morning, I got off the night shift at work and climbed on an airplane for a two-week vacation in Texas. On the way, I had a long layover in Minneapolis/St. Paul, my hometown. My dad, mom, and brother picked me up at the airport, and the four of us went out to dinner at one of those hip, healthy, gourmet restaurants. We drank crisp, cold white wine and ate course-after-course of leafed greens and unique vegetables that even this 15-year vegetarian couldn’t identify.

The food and drink were irrelevant, though, because of the company and the conversation. It was a brilliant few hours of shared hopes and expectations, mostly because my parents were just days away from embarking on a trip to the Galapagos Islands (I wish I could properly convey what the Galapagos Islands meant to my dad. During his last few years before retirement, he would often say something like, “Only 11 more months until I can jet off to the Galapagos.” To my dad, those islands became some sort of symbol of freedom in the waning years of his professional career.).

When the witching hour arrived, we took the light rail system back to the airport. At the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport, the light rail station is a modern, tall-ceilinged, stone-floored, fluorescent-lighted building so forgettable that one might just confuse it for any other 21st century modern-man creation. Our good-bye was just like most good-byes in our family. For some reason, our family says good-bye approximately 13 times before they actually leave. True to tradition, we loitered with our multiple good-byes until I was becoming late for my next flight and had to rush back into the airport.

The whole scene, from the building to the many good-byes was so typical that, under almost every other circumstance, I wouldn’t recall a detail. In this case, so many minute details are seared into my brain because this was the last time that I saw my dad. 15 days later, on one of the Galapagos’ tiniest islands, my dad died.

Coincidentally, so coincidentally that I wish it weren’t so, I’ll be getting off the night shift this Thursday morning and climbing on an airplane. This time I’ll get off the airplane in Minneapolis/St. Paul and stay there for a week. Probably no one but my mother and I have been keeping track, but I haven’t been home since my dad’s funeral. I’ve seen my family lots of times, but it’s been when either we’ve met in some middle location, like a beach in Mexico, or when my family has come to me, in Yellowstone.

The idea of getting on an airplane and going home sinks my stomach to the bottom of its cavity and induces a flash of progressive images behind my eyes. Dinner in the gourmet restaurant, watching my dad’s arms wave as he talks, like his arms always waved during the good stories. The lingering good-bye in the too-bright light rail station. The disgustingly compressed air of the airplane ride home after my dad died, and its inability to yield quality oxygen for deep breaths. Sitting at the kitchen table at home with my mentally disabled brother, wracking my brain for the right way to explain the horrific in a way that he could understand. The way the couch shook when my mom sat and cried so deeply that I was scared to death of what would happen next. The feel of the narrow heels of my high-heeled shoes sinking into soft, spring grass as I helped carry my father’s casket to its grave. The bugle playing Taps, guns firing, a flag folding. Tears, so many tears from everyone.

You can see why it’s been a struggle to climb aboard an airplane and go home in these intervening two years. Since I’ve been all Miss Positive lately, I think I’m supposed to find an upbeat conclusion before I stop writing. Well, I am going to get on an airplane and go home on Thursday morning. And I’m probably going to think that the air on that airplane is so-damn dense that, why can’t I get a deep breath? And I’m probably going to cry like a baby when I go into the house because my dad’s stuff will be everywhere, I mean, how can decades of life just disappear into thin air and why would you want them to? It appears that I still have some healing to do and maybe that will happen, so I guess that’s the positive conclusion. That, and the fact that my mother is overjoyed that I’m finally going to visit.

 

18 Responses to “Thursday Morning”

  1. The Salty One says:

    Shit, Meghan. That stinks. But you might be surprised that in the pain there is a lot of goodness and growth. Something I learned in the many years since my dad died is that you have to face the pain to get beyond it. And for me, confronting that pain was never remotely as bad as I anticipated. In fact, it felt freeing and I am happier for it. It’s certainly not easy. But I hope you get there too. I’ll be thinking about you!

  2. jeff says:

    best wishes on the trip home, meghan. take it one breath, one step, one day at a time.

    i’ll say what i said when you went to the funeral. you are living a life that he would be proud of. you set an amazing example and are brilliant testimony to who your dad was as a father and a man.

    again, best wishes.

  3. Kevin says:

    Meghan, we’ve never met, but I linked to your blog from JeffO’s probably about a year ago. I can’t say that I understand exactly what you’re going through, but I can certainly sympathize. I am extremely close to my parents and they are getting older. I am very frightened – no terrified – of that day when I lose one of them. It’s inevitable, I know that it will come at some point, and I am powerless to do anything to prevent it, and I guess that’s what is scariest. I can understand how painful it must be for you because I know how I would feel in that situation. Even though we’ve never met in person and probably never will, I do feel that I’ve gotten to know you a little through your blog. Please know that my thoughts and prayers will be with you over the weekend.

    Kevin

  4. Audrey says:

    Hi Meghan. I’m so sorry you’re scared but, as you noted, I’m sure your mother is so glad you’re going home and she can’t wait to see you. You poor thing. Bring tissues and running shoes. Thinking of you.

  5. Backofpack says:

    Meghan,
    It’s going to be hard for you, but think of the gift you are giving your Mom. To have you home again, in her arms and by her side will help fill a space that is empty. That alone will be worth the trip, and worth the pain you will feel. I hope it helps bring you peace too – facing the unimaginable…I think it will really be good for you. I’ll be thinking of you. Thanks for taking the risk and sharing with us.

  6. A says:

    Wow, Meghan, this is beautiful writing. And, there’s a place for positivity, and there’s a place for grief, and trying to hide grief to maintain a face of positivity would only prolong the pain and healing process. This was such a beautiful post, and I’m sure difficult to write, but wow, I love that you’re keeping your dad present by writing about him in this way. Thank you for writing about it and sharing your story! I’ll be thinking of you this week…

    Anne

  7. Bob Gentile says:

    I am glad u posted this as well Meghan… Life is hard and so many people go through difficult times, yet way to many KEEP those tough times inside.

    Only to have it rattle in the mind.

    and we all can agree our minds can be a scary thing.

    Very happy you trusted yourself to POST this with us. This will be a tough trip but will be great to see your mom and also share those great memories of your dad with her & ur family.

    You hear people say to celebrate the ones you lost, and you know what I AGREE… and I know u guys have done that but KEEP doing it & I BELIEVE it is even more powerful to do it with all his stuff around.

    God Bless You!

  8. Alisha says:

    Hey, good luck. I really feel for you. Thanks for being so open and honest, and in return, I will be geniunely hoping that you have an easy time with the trip and feel at least a little better upon your return.

    The one thing I’d say, though, not that you’re soliciting advice, is that a lot of times people talk about learning to get through the sad parts, or whatever, but personally, I think that it’s totally healthy and acceptable to wallow in the sad parts for a while, so if this is something that really hurts you, it’s ok to let it hurt and not try to get over it, for a little while.

    So again, good luck Que vaya bien (Hope it goes well)

  9. Beth says:

    Hey Meghan! That had to be tough to write – but thanks for sharing!! I will be praying for you and your trip home and hoping that you can do some good crying and healing and time with your mom that will benefit you both greatly. Thinking of you lots. Like Jeff said – one step and one day at a time! 🙂

  10. JeffO says:

    I’m glad you have a family to heal with, and that you’re into the next phase.
    Like I’ve said in my blog, I don’t really think things happen for a reason – it’s up to us to create meaning in everything that happens. We can do that well or poorly, and some choose to neglect events and no meaning develops (which is a shame because then it’s like something happens for no reason). Life is quite a job. It’s certainly not something to sit back and play spectator with. We have to work through it to bring out the best.
    You have a geniuinely positive-but-sober approach to life. You have good friends and family. I’m confident you will produce rich meaning from this event.
    Good luck – and have fun too. Laughter is awesome medicine, even if laughing through tears.

  11. Danni says:

    Oh Meghan, I’m so sorry. My mother died 10 years ago — which doesn’t mean I feel the same exact pain that you feel — but I know it’s incredibly tough to deal with. And there’s no avoiding the hurt, even many years later. Good luck.

  12. sea legs girl says:

    Meghan,
    That was a beautiful post. Your dad would be so proud if he could read it. There must be something comforting in his dying in a place he loved.
    Olga tells us we might get to meet you on your trip home. Perhpas you know where? Okay, enough of the cryptic. Best wishes for the trip home and for your family.

  13. Becky Wexler says:

    Meghan–I haven’t checked in on your blog lately but just did and saw the sad news about your dad. I am so sorry for you and your family and I hope that you can all draw some strength from each other during this difficult time.

    Becky

  14. olga says:

    I remember that first time after the funeral of my nephew how i went back home, and how I went to a flat he lived in, and then to a University he studied in. It was the saddest feeling – how can those young beautiful students still roam around and study and live lives when he doesn’t? And I cry a lot. Now I cry less with every visit. But I cry over and over.
    Coincedently, my divorce fell on his 3rd anniversity of death (are there anniversaries like that? Who would want to keep track?). One life is over, another “together” life is over…
    May be it’s from somewhere else that we have those coincedences to remind us. May be we are “searching” for them ourselves, not realizing it.
    I am sorry for your loos. I am glad you had those few hours together. Think of them as a life jacket on the trip.

  15. Meghan says:

    I’m really, really touched by all of your wonderful, supportive comments. I can’t thank you enough.

    Salty- I think you’re right about feeling free in getting past the pain.

    Jeff- The reminder to go one breath, one step at a time is perfect for me.

    Kevin- Thank you for commenting. Death is so very much a part of life, yet it is very hard to accept, no matter the circumstance.

    Audrey- I am scared, but I didn’t realize it until you wrote this.

    Michelle- You are very wise to remind me of a mother’s perspective.

    Anne- My aim isn’t to hide from pain behind a mask of positivity. I wish to find something, anything good in the situation. Thank you for the compliment.

    Bob- I know you had a very similar life experience about the same time as I did, so I identify well with the things you said.

    Alisha- Thanks for the advice, and I agree with you. I’ve been known to wallow, all pig-like.

    Beth- In all, I think it will be a good trip, you’re right. At times very challenging, but good.

    JeffO- Your constructivist philosophies well-aligned with the way I look at life, also. Thank you for the reminder to find meaning in life experience.

    Danni- Your empathy is really meaningful. Not that I wish anyone to suffer, but I identify well with others who’ve had similar life experiences. You know?

    Sea Legs- I’m hoping he’s proud. See you this weekend, hopefully.

    Becky- Thanks for commenting. It isn’t a new tragedy, but that doesn’t neccessarily make it easier.

    Olga- I like the life jacket analogy. I hadn’t thought of it like that before.

    Thanks again, everyone!

  16. Sunshine Girl says:

    Good thoughts for you on this Thursday morning. Grieving sneaks up on you when you least expect it, it is in itself a way of remembering.

    Enjoy the weekend and some quality time with your mom,

    Leslie

  17. Laura H says:

    Good grief Meghan (pun intended). I’ve been through loss of both parents and as Alisha said, it’s very healthy and a part of the healing process to allow yourself to wallow in the grief, rather than suppress it. It’s all a part of life – don’t let anyone try to take that away from you! Hugs to you and your mom and brother.

  18. Mrs Spumoni says:

    Words fail! Meghan, I didn’t make the connection. I’m so sorry, all over again – you DO rock!

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