I have alluded to my father’s illness in past posts. He has been battling Esophageal Cancer since 2005 – at least that is when the diagnosis was made. I am sure he had been fighting it long before that. The average 5 years survival rate for his type of cancer is 25%. On Saturday, January 21, 2013, my dad’s body could no longer keep up with his will to live. His soul departed this earth at 11:00 AM with me, my mother, Papa Bear and both Bear Cubs at his side. While I miss him terribly and would love to have just a few more minutes with him to hear his laugh and see his sparkling blue eyes, his death was a spirit filled, holy, and peaceful event.
The last week has been filled with all the social etiquette that surround the death of a loved one – making the arrangements, family and friends arriving into town, the wake (or visitation), the funeral. Throughout this time my family was surrounded by people who provided us so much love and support. Yet there were times we wanted, no, needed, to be by ourselves. We needed to absorb the enormous change that had rocked our world. We needed to feel the pain, to accept its presence in our lives and accept that it is not going to go away any time soon. My aunt opened her house (located just across the field from my parents’ house) to be the gathering place so that my family could retreat to mom and dad’s house when we needed that solitude. It was the perfect arrangement. We were able to reach out whenever we needed to have social interaction while grieve privately when we needed that. We laid my father to rest on Wednesday morning, and late that evening Papa Bear and the Cubs and I headed back to our house. I took the rest of the week off work and spent the time sleeping and just feeling the depth and variety of emotions that are still clamoring to be released. Right now I feel emotionally bruised and battered. But I am comforted by the love that has been shown to me. I am strengthened by the promises of my faith. And I am sheltered by the arms of Papa Bear.