My brain said that I should sit and eulogize, try to express my grief. I don't have the words to adequately voice what this loss, his loss, means to my family and to me. Obviously, my husband has lost his father, a man that he has spent his life trying to make proud - something that many children find to be a moving target. His role model, his most earliest mentor, the person who taught him how to shoot, how to appreciate the woods, how to chart your family history, and how to hunger for a relationship with God - to question, to observe. My children have lost their grandfather, a man very different than the one who raised my husband, but that is the nature of age and time. The first two children are very sad, as they had formed a strong relationship with him and an appreciation for him. The third child is sad at the concept of the loss of him. With less time spent with him, her understanding will grow with the stuff of created memory and mythos.
I've lost a friend, a debate partner, co-philosopher and theologian, a father. Estranged from my own father when I was 15, I've already told the story of what the introduction and acceptance of my father-in-law meant to me. I didn't need him to be proud of me. The only person I have ever needed to be proud of me, died seven years ago. She showed me early on how she believed in me and how wonderful I was. Her fierce love challenged me to be as good at everything as she already knew I was. I needed him to love me, to accept me. We didn't always agree. We didn't have to, and in fact, we didn't discuss the topics that we each knew we were on opposite sides of the fence on. He knew he wasn't going to change my mind, and I knew I didn't want to piss him off.
Aside from my sister-in-law, Kim, who is more sister than in-law, he was my biggest supporter in a very large and beautiful family. His loss is palpable to many, not just me. And I will not even begin to imagine understanding that of my dear mother-in-law's loss. To have been his, and he yours, for a lifetime ... that's a love that most people will never be fortunate enough to know. If I think about it too long, I can't catch my breath. Truly, her loss is the greatest.
I don't normally like to mix my poetry with this blog, but I will share the poem I wrote for him the day he died, if only that it would bring comfort to anyone in this family that I love.
There are no words today.
You’re gone from us, from me.
No more beloved nicknames,
deep conversations prefaced
with “now, let me ask you this,”
no more salted peanuts in your Pepsi,
the skins floating to the top of the
long necked bottle, no throat clearing
cough followed by that deep sigh
through your front teeth, the way
you rested your left arm over your
right when seated at the kitchen table,
thumb absently rubbing the skin, the
smile that made your eyes disappear.
No more growled “take that” when you
would play the low card, hoping that
I would toss down the higher trump.
Get up on both cheeks, Heddo.
Your heart can break again and again.