Today was Dad's memorial service. I was dreading it all week, knowing there would be a huge number of people in attendance and that I would feel like I was on display for everyone there. And there were a LOT of people there. And there was a lot of noise and a lot of talking and a lot of people asking how I was and if I was OK and telling me what a great man they thought he was and needing to be thanked for coming. But mostly, it was better than I had anticipated. Those who spoke on his life spoke eloquently on their memories of him and worked to highlight his strengths. And while a few moments of the things that people said caused tears, I was mostly fine. So that was good.
My Uncle Dan wrote a great message in the guest book. Paraphrasing, he said that we can't let this illness be what we remember of David - rather, we have to remember him how he was. This was a good message to read, as it has been especially hard for me to recall anything more than the his final months recently. Not that I don't have other memories, but the reality of the end of his life and what it was like is so much more vivid to me, because of the strain of it, and because of how recently it occurred. So I'm working to remember other things, better things, moments not shadowed by cancer.
I am acutely aware of the lack of his presence some times. When my sister flew in from TN, and we were all in one room, save for Dad, at that moment I felt a keen sense of loss. Yet in other moments, I feel as if nothing has changed, except that I feel a general sense of sadness, a cloud that's with me because I know that my dad is gone, even if I don't miss him in that moment. I can't pinpoint why I'm sad, or what made me sad, I just feel this cloud descend every so often. In the past week, I have thought of a number of things over the days that I would loved to have told him - things about APL, and about what I'm doing there, things about church, and things just about my life in general. But I also don't feel the same heavy weight of grief that I felt watching him in the last two weeks of his life. I feel a sense of peace, and a sense that this grief is different from what I felt before. It's easier to carry around with me. It's more manageable. It will be with me for a long time, perhaps even the rest of my life, but it will be gentler. The crashing waves have mostly passed, for now.