There’s no good way to say it so I just will. Last week would have been my Dad’s 61st birthday but instead of celebrating with him we buried his remains.
(When my dad was dying I didn’t write about it at all and I wish I would have. So now, in the aftermath, I’m writing.)
It took us awhile, as a family, to decide what we would do with his ashes. I know some people head out to somewhere meaningful and scatter them but we didn’t think that letting them blow out the back of his convertible was in very good taste. We’re considerate like that.
After much debate we decided to have a small plot at the cemetary where we would bury them and have a headstone so that his 8 grandsons would have a place to visit, should they need as they grow.
I’m not big on traditional sentiment. I’ve never visited anyone’s grave beyond the day that they were buried. But I get that it serves a purpose and I’m totally good with that.
The day was somewhat surreal. It was one I was sort of looking forward to but only so that it would be over with. Looking back I think we were all a bit on edge the days prior, but you never know that in the moment.
As the time neared to the hour that my family was all to meet at the cemetary my heart grew heavier and heavier. Tears came quickly at random little thoughts of him. I felt like throwing up.
2 o’clock finally came and we all stood, my mom, my two brothers and their wives,
Earl and I, and 8 little boys, around a hole in the ground.
Most days I still can’t believe he’s gone. It feels as though he’s just away on a vacation. I have to really think long and hard and tell myself that he is never going to be here again to make myself believe it. And then I cry.
I know that he’s gone. Not here. No longer on this earth. I saw his body, held his hand and kissed his head in the hospital when he was already rejoicing in heaven. I don’t think I’m in denial. I realize that he died. But for some strange reason it just doesn’t seem true to believe that I won’t just walk down the stairs one day and he’ll be sitting there on the couch.
We didn’t have any sort of fancy urn type thing in which to put my dad’s ashes. Things like that seem pointless to us and my dad would have hated it if he knew we spent any sort of money to fancify death. The man from the funeral home carried a blue reuseable shopping bag which, I’m assuming, had some sort of plain jane box in it, which held what was left of my dad. I really wanted to see what was in the bag but I didn’t ask.
I tried to tap into my children’s brains and see what they were thinking. Grandpa is in a shopping bag. Weird, right? They may need therapy for that one.
My mom had a great idea and read the boys a story about a little boy whos grandpa had died and went around asking everyone around him what heaven was like. It was a good story. I’d read it before but this time I couldn’t focus. I don’t think I even heard the words. I just kept saying in my head, “This is it. We’re burying my dad. My dad. We’re burying him.”
It felt so. so. messed up. Other people’s dad’s die. Mine was strong and brave. Mine was fearless. He didn’t even notice if he cut himself and was bleeding. That’s how strong he is! was.
The cream cheese icing on the carrot cake didn’t taste as good this year as it did every other year on his birthday.