It's been four months since my father died. This has been a horrible couple of weeks. I've been really sad. I've been missing my father terribly. I cry for no reason. A lot. Hard. Sobbing, actually. But then I have to stop it and refocus, because I have gobs of things to do for school, as well as mountains of work sitting on my desk in the office. I want to be able to share the good things happening in my life with my dad and I can't. The emptiness is unbelievable. And if all of this normal grief stuff wasn't bad enough, this week I got pictures of the grave stone via email, which was finally put up earlier this month...and while it gives me closure it still leaves me feeling profoundly sad.
People always tell you that when a loved one passes they don't really leave you, that you can feel them with you. I so badly want this to be the case, but I've just not felt that. I feel totally and completely alone. And I'm far from everything that reminds me of my dad, so other than a few photographs I haven't had anything tangible to remind me of him.
On Sunday I was on the phone with my mom, and I was getting emotional and verbalised this. She's having the opposite problem...she's surrounded by memories all the time, so she can't escape even if she wants to. But she feels his spirit with her. It helps her when she's really low. It comforts her. I didn't have that.
And then Monday night I was sorting through some clothes to get them to the curb for the Salvation Army to take away. I made sure I was going through the pockets to be sure I didn't leave money or ID of any sort in them, since I don't know where they'll end up. And in a pair of black trousers I found this:
This is one of my father's prayer stone. There's a woman that goes to my folk's church who makes them...they're glazed clay and they fit between your thumb and forefinger and you can use them as a little meditative touchstone for prayer, collecting your thoughts, whatever. My father carried one in his pocket from the time he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and he'd use it to center himself throughout his many treatments.
About four years ago he had a heart attack and was rushed to Rochester. I drove straight down from MSP to meet him in the emergency room, and when he emptied his pockets before he put the gown on he took that stone out. I gave him a really hard time about carrying the Swedish flag around...I mean, nothing against Swedes and all, but we're Czech and it didn't really make a lot of sense. He laughed. When he'd been picking out a stone before he started radiation, he wanted one with a cross and didn't actually put two and two together until he'd taken it home. So my mom had been ridiculing him for months, but he figured if it was helping him get through radiation he could put up with it.
He needed a quadruple bypass, and so when he went into surgery he asked me to keep it for him, along with his watch and his wedding ring...he thought it would help me not worry so much. I don't think I put the thing down the whole time he was under. I had to give the watch and the ring back but he let me keep this stone, maybe because he knew that I'd continue to worry about him and it could only help.
It's been in my pocket for every major presentation and event I've had until I lost it about six months ago. It's been really bugging me that I couldn't find it. In fact, I really wanted it with me when I flew home knowing I eventually would end up attending his funeral on that trip, but I couldn't find it so I had to fly solo. The stone he got to replace it is buried with his ashes.
Maybe I'm a sap. Maybe I just so badly want to have him here, I am letting myself be fanciful for a moment. But I've chosen to believe he heard me on the phone. And he helped me find it to make me feel better. And in a small way, it has.