Death is hard.
It doesn't matter if you've been expecting it, and you know they wouldn't have liked to live the way they were, or if you hope they are in a better place, it still sucks.
To know someone doesn't exist in this world anymore? That you can't call them and share a funny story about your kids, or that they aren't where you saw them last? I hate it.
I'm surprised by the regrets that come with it, too. I talked to him a couple of weeks ago, which I am grateful for, but I wasn't there at the end. I was there so many times before, but not when it counted. I didn't call him as much as I wish I had, or held his hand the night before he died, or bought a plane ticket when I could have. I took for granted he would be okay, that things were fine and he knew I thought of him often. Life gets busy and you assume people will be where you left them. Which isn't true. All the years I was living nearby and saw him almost daily, talked for hours on the back porch and argued about just about anything that counted? Those times are gone. The closeness is gone and not having that kills me.
To have an empty phone contact where no one will ever answer again? A folder of pictures to remember someone by and simple memories of years and years of closeness is all I have left. To live far from those that know him and knew what he was to me is awful. I'm constantly sad and I'm not sure how long that will be. Forever, I assume.
You see, I'm lucky to have not seen a lot of death in my life. A grandmother in college who passed before she could meet my children and husband, a grandfather last year that lived a long and fulfilling life. These hurt, but not like this. I lost a person that I considered a parent, someone who didn't have to be there for me, but was. For all the years that counted. I saw the best and the worst sides of him and tried to be there for him always, no matter what was going on in my life. He was a dad to me in all the ways that counted, and not having him here anymore crushes me. It's devastating and really hard to put into words.
I'm not religious and I have a lot of doubt about heaven and all that encompasses what we want to believe and what is true. Is he somewhere better, magically transformed into who he was as I remember, or is this just an idea that is meant to comfort the living? I hope for the former, I really do. I hope he's floating somewhere around me, smiling because he can see the kids again and he can see how much he meant to me, and how much I miss him. I hope he can see how much he was loved and how much I wish I could have been there for him at the end. I want that for myself so much it hurts, and I want that for him. To know he is happy and healthy and able to see how much love he left behind.
He always supported me, even when he questioned everything I knew to be true. We argued and debated everything, from whether or not I should buy a ridiculously expensive car at age 18 (luckily he talked me out of this!), to how to raise kids and whether or not I should schedule everything out (I believe I'm right on this one;) He read my blog and watched me become a mom. He came over every weekend to watch Patriot's football and babysat for me so my husband and I could go on dates. He drove me nuts and made me laugh. He was one of the people in my life that made a huge difference, and I am grateful I got the chance to have him.
He will be greatly missed by me forever.