My brothers & sisters and I cried that day when mom said the prayer over our meal; we realized so clearly in that moment that everything was changing. In addition to this being the first holiday season without my dad, it will also be the first time (in my life!) I will experience a small, intimate family gathering. No doubt it will be quiet & sad, that's unavoidable. I know it is important to go on: to bake & decorate for the holidays, to make new traditions, to play games, to watch our favorite holiday movies, even to really face the quiet emptiness we will all be feeling. I'm looking forward to spending time with my mom & sister while she is home from DC and I am on a break from work. But I am already dreading how much we'll be missing my dad....his wild competitive streak with card playing, ping-pong & pool, him sneaking into the kitchen to sample all the yummy food, the cream puffs he bakes every year from an old family recipe, watching It's a Wonderful Life and White Christmas with him.
Thanksgiving is only days away. I can't believe how quickly the past 2 months have passed. I still break into tears suddenly. I still have regrets - did I tell him all the things I wanted him to know? There are many questions I never asked, never found the right moment for even knowing time was growing short. During one of the days toward the end, I held his right hand for a long time praying to feel a squeeze. I was so jumbled & tired I had forgotten he had lost all ability on that side. Finally I took his left hand and felt him ever so gently, so faintly squeeze my hand. Even now I feel a wave of sadness for all that lost time I spent holding the wrong hand! I know our grief will lessen with time, but no one in my family will ever really be the same. Witnessing a loved one suffer and pass away changes you.