This picture was taken April 30, 2005 - five weeks before my dad passed away. On June 11, 2005 I was still experiencing that heady euphoria you feel after your own incredible wedding and honeymoon. We had a newly remodeled house with all kinds of wonderful things that people had given us for our shower, new couches, new appliances and a new puppy. Then a policeman knocked on my door and sent my world spinning. He was only 55. Granted, he was not in the best health but it is still stunning when someone who was helping you paint your bedroom one week is gone in the snap of a finger the next week. Especially when that someone is your dad.
When I left the cemetery that day, I fully intended on never going back. I felt like it is only a shell of a person there and nothing else. What was the point of visiting someone in a place they did not truly reside? But I have often wondered if this was the wrong attitude to have. So when I made this list I decided that this was the way to get me to do it at least once to make sure that I wasn't making the wrong decision about not going. I woke up this morning and I looked at my phone and noticed the date. June 11. In that moment I decided that today was the day. I had butterflies in my stomach the whole way there. I drove in thinking that I could go to the office to find out the exact location of the plot but they were closed. I had a general idea in my head of where it was (only from watching them lower the casket after the funeral, we didn't even have the service there) and I ended up driving around the entire place one time to get my bearings only to stop when I had a feeling and get out at the exact location of the plot. I got out of my car expecting it to be the wrong spot, though, so when I saw Donald Bruce Duffee on the headstone I literally took a step back like someone had socked me, suddenly feeling dizzy. I stood in front of the gravestone in the rain for a good fifteen minutes just crying. It is so weird to know that this person you knew and loved is in the ground below you. And you know what? All I could think about was his death and all the sadness I felt in the subsequent months. No happy thoughts came to me and I didn't feel at all inclined to talk to him. I just kept thinking, "the body of my father is right here...half of the reason I am here is in this ground...". I realized right then and there that my dad is not there; he is truly in my heart. It is the cheesiest thing to say, but it is so unbelievably true. I had to go there today to confirm that for myself. I felt like a bad daughter for not going to the grave these past few years but now I know that it was/is the right decision for me. Some people feel like it is very cathartic but I am at peace now knowing that is just not how I grieve.
I miss him so much but he is still very much alive in my heart. I talk to him all the time. Every time I tell myself that I can't do something, his voice still rings in my head saying, "you can do anything you put your mind to". Once again, very cheesy, but that is literally what my dad would tell me ALL THE TIME. It has stuck with me and given me the self confidence that I have to this day. He thought I was special and he told me so all the time. I can't wait to do the same for my children one day.
I am so glad to check this one off my bucket list. Thanks for reading this - writing this has been the cathartic experience I really needed. RIP Dad (March 25, 1950 - June 11, 2005)