The biggest fallacy about preparing yourself for a loved one’s death is believing you’re actually prepared. You’re an intelligent adult, you have all the facts, you know the timeline given by the doctors, and you can expect something to happen. Sadly, “expect” only means that something is likely to occur. In no way does that mean we are prepared.
Even after we see the evidence of the disease winning, our heart continues to hold onto the belief that something will change and it is all just a matter of finding that right medicine or perfect combination of drugs or that much better, more knowledgeable doctor. You know the one, the guy that gives you the ‘right’ diagnosis – the diagnosis you want to hear? Those words – “We have the ability to make everything better and it will be okay,” and then you no longer have to worry. We hear about it happening. Why not for us?
Good people shouldn’t have to die, we say, and rob the world of their grace and kindness. That’s just wrong and not the way it should be at all! Modern medicine can conquer almost everything now. This is no different, is it? As long as you’re having any of these thoughts, you are not preparing – not that there is any true preparedness anyway, as I found out yesterday.
Wednesday, March 14th, 2007. My Dad died. All that preparation. Yes, it’s coming sometime. As each day passed I felt myself bracing every time the phone rang. “I am prepared, though. It will not take me by surprise, nor will it shock me. I am prepared.” I was not.
It almost seemed criminal that it happened on an unseasonably warm and sunny day with not a cloud in the sky. No, no, this isn’t right, either. It should be dismal and rainy, cold and cloudy; not a happy pleasant day! This scene is all wrong.
Worse, I heard it the wrong way – on my cell phone. That the call came on my cell phone was utterly unpardonable! My ringtone is Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way.” It should be something somber and fitting of my Dad’s passing.
Then I stopped thinking about myself and thought about how Dad would see all this. He would want it to be sunny and pleasant. He would be happy that the day wasn’t all Gothic and gloomy. He was mystified by the kids who were into Goth, saying they were lost and whiny souls seeking attention and looking to be different by all being the same. He certainly wasn't that, nor was his life! His favorite quote was “You only live once, but if you work it right, once is enough.” Spoken like a true Irishman. Why I would feel that any day involving him be dreary, I don't know. His life certainly wasn’t!
I can just hear him now. If I were to share with him that his exodus from this earth was announced by Aerosmith singing “Walk This Way,” he would say “Cool! But watch that first step; it’s a real doozy!”
Missing you, Dad. You made every day shine.