That was last week.
My dad finally succumbed to the degenerative lung disease he’d been suffering with the past four years or so. While we knew it was coming, eventually, it still took us by surprise -- he was only home for two and half days with hospice care -- though he held on long enough to give everybody a chance to get home and say goodbye. There was a military burial. We only found out about two months prior that my dad had won a Bronze Star for valor in Korea, a war he was too young to be in (my grandmother artfully altered his birth certificate allowing him to enter the service just after his 16th birthday.) I have mixed feelings about it. Pride that he saved many troops by bravely pulling out of position and driving his landing craft through a Chinese boat armed with machine gunners attacking the shoreline camp; horror that my dad was a killer; sorrow that I obviously never knew him very well.
The day after the funeral I was on a plane to Boston for the Saturday wedding of a cousin’s son, a trip I had written off when it became clear my father was rapidly deteriorating. It was a joy to see many of my cousins and celebrate the marriage of my aunt’s eldest grandchild, a sharp, handsome kid in the State Attorney’s office, with, what I’m guessing, is a promising political career ahead of him (think JFK Jr. with better morals.) It took me by surprise each time someone would come up and say they were sorry to hear about my father.
Sunday I headed up to New Hampshire for the surprise baby shower of my high school best buddy and her wife. Only when my friend asked how Aunt B was and I explained that she was actually down in Florida keeping my mom company did a few unexpected tears come to the surface. Those were quickly brushed away so as not to dampen the cheery occasion.
And now I'm home, having come full circle, feeling a bit dead on the inside.