When Everything Falls Apart

My dad and me, circa 1978.

My dad and me, circa 1978.

This week I picked up Mary’s ashes and placed them in the wooden box made by her son from her parent’s dining room table. I brought death certificates to the bank, the insurance company, credit cards, and social security. I’ve taken my dad for a haircut and a straight edge razor shave. We’ve had a memorial service, Valentine’s Day, and a birthday party. We’ve looked at a thousand old pictures, tracing our shared and separate pasts. I’ve heard him weeping beside me and from all the way across the house.

And right now, after the 8th day in his guest room, I am vacillating between the hopeful relief and utter heartbreak of finding the next home for my dad. A memory care center, a fenced in community. Somewhere safe. If feels like trapping a lion, like taking a wild majestic beast and casing out the square footage of his cage. It feels like betrayal. My dad would like to live alone in the country with a tool shed and huge bonfires and uncrowded acres where he can continue to carve sculptures and expand within the world around him. But, he’s started falling and I’m not strong enough to lift him up. Sometimes he forgets how to spell his own name. He gets lost inside a pullover shirt. Cell phones and remote control are foreign objects from foreign lands. There are portals under the kitchen sink, men with hooves in the parking lot, a whole host wildlife I cannot see galloping through this house.

Some grief is simple. You miss your loved one. It is inconceivable that they are gone. Your grief it's beautiful and pure. It's different from grieving for someone who is still right in front of you.

My father tells me he's in the midst of a catastrophe. He’s lost his home and his profession and his wife and his cat. I say I can't argue with that. He says everything is falling apart, but that that it must be coming together too, because life is an infinity symbol. With every contraction, expansion. He says, if you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there. I keep doing the next right thing that is in front of my to do. Feeling it out, blind, throwing myself into faith. And we are holding on to that.

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