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I stood there in front of everyone and looked out at all the people before I spoke. My family sat in the first row. I felt I had to stand for dad, channel him somehow, be calm and reassuring like he would be. After all, I’ve been told so many times in my life that I am like him.

I didn’t have an opportunity to write down what I would say, so I’d be winging it. And all at once it occurred to me that I should tell those who came because they loved my dad, that I was in shock, that my mother and brother were in shock and that we would need them all to ask about dad when the shock wore off in about three months – because we’d want to talk about him. I’d read that in a book once and had even made myself a note to contact people I care about three months after they’d lost people they loved.

What I didn’t know from the book is what it feels like when the shock wears off. I didn’t know that it’s like getting dental surgery and thinking to myself, ‘I handled that pretty good,’ and then the freezing wears off and the pain comes with such a force it throws you off kilter, completely catching you off guard. I didn’t know how FINAL death is, how empty I would feel inside, how my heart would hurt, how afraid I would be to forget his blue eyes, and the sound his drumming fingers made on the table, what his laugh sounded like, how his strong voice seemed to come from deep within when he spoke. I didn’t know how important the stuff I didn’t give a shit about before would become, like his coin collecting and how I am constantly looking for the young queen with the crown on the new twenty-dollar bill or the quarters with the poppies and putting them aside so I can…

so I can what?

I don’t know.

I didn’t know that I would have good days, that the memory of him would make me smile, that I could share stories and laugh remembering them, that I could even have days that I wouldn’t think of him at all and yet my body would betray me with restless nights, low energy, aches and pains as if it were carrying the load for my broken heart.

This past Sunday (month 4 since he passed away) I was hit with another wave of grief. It came in the form of a realization that I will never see dad again, at least not in this world. Of course I knew that before, but it’s as if my mind was protecting me earlier, as if I kind of just glazed over that point, as if the freezing hadn’t worn off yet.

I guess you really don’t know until you know.