Thursday, April 14, 2011
Once upon a time, we were a family of six. It began with two people who, logistically speaking, should never have met. Long before there was such a thing as the internet to bring people worlds apart together, a girl from the mountains of Tennessee met a guy from Brooklyn, New York. He was in the Army and she was helping one of her many sisters who had moved to Virginia. Against all probability and reason, these two completely opposite young people met and fell in love. Six weeks later, they married.
I don't know what made an Italian guido and a Southern belle decide to move to Kansas City of all places, but that's where they eventually settled down and got busy. Jobs came and went, children got born, and houses got moved in to and out of, but eventually things started to click into place. A factory job with good pay, a three-bedroom house, and two boys and a girl. They only needed one more daughter to make it all a matched set. They prayed for a girl, and got me.
Forty-two years and one day later, my father drew his last breath and went home to Jesus, Mom, my oldest brother and all the family that had gone on before him.
I've struggled a lot with what to say since April 1st. I thought I knew what being on an emotional roller-coaster was before, but this? This is the grand-daddy of all mood swings. I'm about as disjointed as a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle being handled by a preschooler. Every time I sit here trying to find the words, I get overwhelmed by it all. I can't get it out.
I can't tell you all the things that happened over the course of these past two months...it's all still so painfully raw and every day some part of it springs unbidden in my mind and drives me to tears or rage or both. To the people that insisted on being petty and childish and egocentric, to the ones who put their social engagements over family, to the ones who spent more time crying at my father's funeral than they ever did speaking to him in the past thirty years, I want to grab them by the shoulders, shake them and yell, "How could you be that way?!?!" I won't do it. I can't. I'll never tell them how they've made me feel, because once I got started it would erupt like a volcano, and I know I can't do that. So I hold it in. In some inexplicable, paradoxical way, I'm too weak to let go of it yet. I know I'll get there. With time and God's grace, I'll be strong enough. Already those moments are getting farther apart, but it's still going to take time.
I've been deeply touched by the condolences and prayers that have come my way. Dear friends pitched in when the ones we were counting on didn't, and people that I've never laid eyes on in this life have lifted me up in prayer at a time when I couldn't pray for myself. It's humbling to be on the receiving end of so much love.
I miss Dad...I was missing him before he drew that last breath. But I know he's in a better place, a place he's been ready to go to for years. I have peace knowing he's with Jesus. That helps.
Once upon a time, we were a family of six...
Three family members were unavailable for this picture. Two grandsons are currently serving their country with honor in Kuwait. One granddaughter is finishing her final exams before graduating college. Their grandfather was exceedingly proud of each of them for what they're doing.