My father died four days ago. Four days ago still feels like four minutes. Even when someone is ailing, even when you know death will come, it’s always too soon. There never seems to be enough time. It’s so quick too, that moment in which your world changes. Like that. Like a breath or a breeze or a blink. One minute you know the familiar parameters that frame your life, the next, they disappear, along with your father, into a deep, perfectly carved hole.
In the church, I was strong. Mostly strong. It surprised me. But I shook during the Our Father, when it hit me that I would never again feel the warmth of my father’s hands in mine. There was something about the way he held my hand that brought me straight back to my childhood, my core, my knowing of myself. As a child, my father was my world. You think you become so sophisticated as you grow up; above tender things like lullabys and being called “darling”. But I realize now that nothing had changed in the precise moment that everything did. My father was still my world in so many ways and now the world order has changed.
The earth was dark. It had rained, giving the soil a rich, fertile sheen. Everything happened in slow motion. The winding walk up New Street. The conversations with the priest and the grave diggers. The blood-red rose that came out of nowhere, sent by his former employees to be tossed into the earth that surrounded him. The prayers, the singing, the stifled sobs, the gritty feel of the soil between my fingers. It’s bizarre, this natural order of life, that makes you have to say these inadequate goodbyes.