My dad died. I still find that so shocking to say, even two months later. I struggle to speak of him in the past tense. I have the sense of falling when I allow myself to think it: my dad died.
It was a good death. We all hope for that peaceful scene surrounded by family and deeply loved, and that happened. Daddy died with his beloved wife and his four children around him - and their families, too. The hospital was sincerely, generously, compassionately, and professionally wonderful.
But Daddy is dead and that can't be mended. My mourning is so deep and layered that I have to shelve it daily in a variety of ways. I surround myself with strange relics and wear his watch and sweater. I have embarked on the rest of my life missing my dad.
What Daddy left me is rich and even lively: ongoing debates, grounding values, a chuckling curiosity and wonder. He left me and my brothers a stubborn legacy of what dads are and what they do. I will always, to some degree, be sitting next to him in the front seat of the Chevy, back when kids could sit in the front and slide around without seat belts. His right hand is drumming on the seat back behind my head. When he has to brake quickly he will fling his arm to brace me: always believing that he can protect me from harm. From hard stops and windshields, from bullies and bad decisions, from the laws of physics and time.
It's a hard stop Daddy. A hard, hard stop.