It’s been two weeks since I’ve been able to put any thoughts related to my father’s unexpected passing into writing. Writing has always been a release for me – a way to sort through the noisy clamor in my brain and make some sense of it. I’m not particularly articulate when I speak, so I prefer to take the time to lay my thoughts out on a screen.
But writing about this requires reflection, it requires acceptance and it requires me to actually feel the pain that lingers just below the surface. I feel like I’ve been in almost constant shock for over two weeks now. Our bodies go into shock in the wake of a traumatic or painful event to protect us from the excruciating reality of the pain, and I’m not sure I’m ready to give up that protection just yet.
The reality of sorting through a person’s after effects gives you something to focus on – it’s a task that can be accomplished without having to really, truly grasp why it is you’re performing this task. It’s a routine that keeps you functioning, until the faceless voice on the other end offers their scripted condolences and you burst into tears in your office at 3pm.
If I manage to fall asleep at night without a sleeping pill, I’m troubled by hazy nightmares of being trapped in buildings unable to find my way out, or of anonymous entities taunting me as I search through an empty unknown house for my dad. I wake with my throat burning, my chest crushed by the weight of the wrongness of a world without him in it. “It’s not fair!” and “I want him BACK” are constantly on my tongue, but uttering them does no good; there’s no undo button that can erase this sort of finality.
When I cautiously dip a toe into the morass of pain welling up inside me, I recognize a new, deeper, more gut-churning fear of loss – of losing even more people close to me. My dad was a constant; no matter how much of a brat I was, no matter how far apart we were, no matter how wrong he was about politics, he was there, and he’d do anything to protect me. And now he’s not. I can’t handle the pain of losing him. What happens when I lose my mom? Or Charming? I want to gather everyone I love into one place and lock them there so nothing can hurt them or take them from me.
I really am going to go see a psychologist once I feel slightly more certain that I’ll be able to produce actual words rather than just incoherent body-wracking sobs. Right now I’ll continue playing at normal in public; I’ll smile and shrug noncommittally when asked how I’m doing, I’ll throw myself into work and wedding plans, and somewhere along the way, I’ll start to come to terms with the fact that my dad won’t walk me down the aisle, he won’t dance with me to Stealing Cinderella, he won’t see his future grandchildren born, and he won’t ever be there physically, ever again.