It’s been twenty days since my papi breathed his last breath on earth. When someone you love dies, you become part of a grief club. It’s a club you never want to be a part of, but nonetheless will be a part of one day. This is a group of people who have at some time in their lives experienced the total debilitating, all-encompassing grief of losing a loved one.
Don’t misunderstand me; before losing my papi I had lost loved ones to tragedy. Two months prior to losing my daddy, I lost my dear mother in law, whom I adored. We did many things together. Her loss left a hole in my heart, but for some reason I accepted that loss with more grace. Perhaps because she was 90 years old, and was diagnosed with AML a type of bone marrow cancer just one month before her death. The cancer claimed her quickly, and we all had time to love on her the two weeks before her death was eminent. I also lost an aunt and grandmother when a drunk driver hit their car on a New Jersey turnpike. I remember mourning that loss for months. I remember dreaming about them, wishing I could talk to them again, and thinking I didn’t get enough time with them. A year later I lost another aunt in another auto accident in Texas. All four were people I truly loved. Yet I don’t consider myself to have entered the Grief Club until this particular death.
The difference between losing those loved ones and losing my papi was that this time, this loss was mine. I had a lifetime of intimate memories with my papi. My papi had been so good to me and my sister all our lives. He was an exemplary daddy, and this loss was personally mine. I thought I had understood my two cousins’ grief when it was their mothers who passed, but my grief had only been touching the surface of what they experienced. I know now what I did not know then; their grief. I am in the club. This grief is more personal than any grief before.
The first couple of days after Papi’s death I was a zombie. I was walking around arranging things that needed to be arranged, but with an overwhelming sadness. After the funeral my loss became real. The heartache seemed like it would not end. The days were gray. Even the Florida sunshine could not brighten my day. I loved Papi and I was attached to him. It was knowing I would not see him in this life again that broke me, and it was my faith in God, and knowing I would see him again in heaven which saved me from totally losing it. My relationship with my daddy was unique to me. It was a relationship like no other in my life. When I was a little girl I knew I could count on him, and when he became unable to care for himself he knew he could count on me. I did a lot of running around for my papi before his passing. Many times I fought for his life with hospitals, and won. I was his advocate.
Every day in the silence of my daily activities when I'm not talking or doing anything that requires my brain like driving, or getting ready for the day I'm thinking of my papi. I’m remembering something he used to say or how he walked with a little pep in his step when he was walking before the walker and wheelchair days. Every day I think good things, funny things and sad things about him. I smile or feel sad but he's in my thoughts constantly. I don't smile as much as I did and I don't laugh yet but it's only been 20 days. I've been told this is the new normal.