My father died yesterday. His house is eerily quiet now. Dead quiet. The only noises heard are the unrelenting slow staccato of a distant wall clock, the occasional passing car and, off in the distance, the horn of a commuter train.
Grief kept me up last night. When he was here, there were also many fitful sleepless nights. He had nocturia, the waking up to go to the bathroom, which was often followed by the wafting of cigarette smoke drifting underneath a closed bedroom door. The smell and noises would awaken me. I would deny it at first, then it would anger me, sadden me, worry me then gradual sleepy acceptance. I don’t think Elizabeth Kubler -Ross anticipated that her stages could last of all of three minutes at 2 am and involve these circumstances. Somehow I would drift back to sleep.
I have slept here alone before but it’s different now. There will be none of my father’s noises anymore. No clanging of the walker he used in his later years. No hope of him returning to his bulky but squeaky favorite kitchen chair. No more TV at the highest volume. No more war movies. No more Bishop Fulton Sheen. But most of all, no expectation of him yelling at me and I yelling back. Our arguments were almost a sport. The typical fight would last only about three minutes too. Words would explode. Expletives would fly in my adult years and then fist pounding on the table usually accompanied by a loud “Jesus Christ”. He would say, “If I didn’t yell it would mean I didn’t love you.” Boy was I showered with love growing up. We would get out our grievances, all of them, deny they ever existed in the first place then accept whatever small compromise we could muster.
“Jesus Christ”, I pound now in my grief, Ms. Kubler -Ross was a genius.
There will be no more yelling now. No more smoking either. (Thank you Jesus!) No more loud fist pounding. Just the staccato of that ticking clock, the passing car and the train. But the memory of the yelling, fist pounding and many “Jesus Christs" would never fade. Nor will the love.