Mixed Emotions

I didn’t want to see him the way he was. I wanted to remember him the way I saw him in my head. I wanted to remember his big belly hanging over his jeans with the bull belt buckle, his hairy chest with the gold chains around his neck peeking out from his shirt. Even the ever present cigarette dangling between his lips or his fingers. That was my father. That was how I wanted to remember him, but those memories were supplanted against my will.

I had spent almost every day of the past five weeks sat at his bedside having totally one-sided conversations. Conversations where I imagined what his responses would be, should be. I was an adult, yet still a teenager. I was too young for this, too fresh and too innocent, too newly born. But are we not all too young when a parent is dying? My innocence disappeared the moment I first saw him comatose and non-responsive, a wizened man in a biological shell. He was so young – how could God do this to him, to his family, to me?

Nothing prepared me. Words can only paint a picture, they don’t prepare you for the reality of a dead parent, lying there gone on his hospital bed. Move, I wanted to yell, let me at least see your chest move, prove to me that you can still breathe, dammit! Fight, fight so that you can walk me down the aisle, fight so that you can hold your future grandchildren, fight so I don’t have to name a son after you, fight fight fight – why did you give in? Why didn’t you tell God you weren’t ready? Why did you let yourself die?

I wanted to run from the room, but I was told I must say goodbye. What was the point? He could not hear me. His soul had departed from his body. I felt sick. My father was dead. When someone dies you are supposed to say Baruch Dayan HaEmmet – Blessed is the true judge. How does one say God is just and true when he takes a man in his early 40s, leaving behind a bunch of children? How do you tell a 19 year old girl that this was God’s will and she has to accept it? How does that girl accept that her dreams for any kind of relationship with her father are over? There is no comfort in words, in prayer, in funerals or mourning. Not for her.

This week this girl celebrates the barmitzvah of her son, the one she named for her father. His name lives on, his bloodline continues with many grandchildren. Still she carries pain in her heart for what could have been. What should have been. But it is the comfort of her husband and her children that bring her hope for the future. That have assuaged the pain of her loss and suffering.

Baruch Atah Hashem…..Shehechyanu Vekiyamnau Vehigiyanu LaZman Hazeh – Blessed are You, Eternal One our God, who has given us life, sustained us and brought us to this day.

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14 responses to “Mixed Emotions

  1. thank you so much for sharing this…

  2. Well-written… Mazel Tov to your son, and thanks for sharing.

  3. Very nice. I lost my mom when I was 20. She was just 40. You captured my feelings spot on. Thank you!

  4. aww this one made me all teary eyed. It’s so hard to say goodbye, my father was the same way in the end. Thank you so much for sharing.

  5. This is made me teary eyed and choked up. I almost cried sitting here at my desk. Thank you so much for sharing this. I cannot even imagine how hard that was. I watched my grandmother die slowly and that was hard enough.

    Congratulations to your son. May he live long and prosper (the words will have to do as I can’t make the cohen’s sign over the interneet)

  6. Sorry for your loss. I don’t try to explain things the unexplainable. Some things are just…

    Mazal Tov to you, your son and the family.

  7. My littlest sister died last summer after a long struggle against illness. What should have been, was; what should be, is; what will be, should. Suffering her loss is made bearable by gratitude for the time we were blessed to have her. It was with extraordinary kindess that G*d gave her to us, to the world, if only for a brief time. I cannot wait to have children in whose faces I will see hers. I’ll include you and your family in tonight’s tehillim recitation.

  8. Life is like that. When my brother got married some years ago, my mother was in mourning for her dad and grandmother. When his first son was born, my dad was in mourning for his mom. G-d gives us the bitter with the sweet. One day, He will also give us the knowledge to understand why BOTH are “Emet” – but for now, man (and woman) continue to struggle to bless G-d for everything He has created, both the bitter and the sweet…

    Mazal Tov to you and all your beautiful boys!

  9. wow this is so beautiful!

  10. Lady Lock and Load

    Do you think that a person should not be forced to say good bye? Would it be better to say to a child that so and so is not going to be in this world too much longer, would you like to say goodbye? I think the choice should be given, and not forced upon anyone. And afterwards the person or child should go to therapy to recover from such an experience if needed. So hard 😦

  11. Oh, Hadassah! You captured, quite eloquently, the bitter-sweetness of our tradition of naming after those we love! When we celebrated Gili’s Bar Mitzvah last parshat Noah, I also went through a similar range of emotions…. I so wish my mother (z”l) had been there to celebrate instead… but in many ways, I think she was….

  12. Mazel Tov.
    Know that your father is with you at your simcha. It helps me to visualize that all my departed loved ones are at their own table in “another room”, raising their glasses and drinking a lechayim and marveling at the simcha.

    This scene is one of the most powerful I’ve ever experienced, possibly because it originally aired only shortly after my own father died, but whoever wrote it, “gets it”.

  13. I lost my dad when I was 21. Thank you for sharing.

  14. Pingback: Havel-Havalim Number 232- The Back to School Edition « West Bank Mama

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