My dad has been gone for 11 days.
Separation by death is agony. The new, awful distance between you rubs your soul raw, shredding you from the inside out as you push forward through the busyness of sleeping, eating, working.
I keep thinking of things I want to tell him. I used to stockpile bits and pieces to talk to him about while we were in the dialysis waiting room - things to distract him or amuse him. Sometimes they were things that were so exciting to me that I couldn't wait, and told him in the car on the way to the hospital.
He was the kind of person who you wanted to run to when you had something to say that you knew he'd want to hear. He lit up. He laughed from his toes. He pounded his fist with sympathetic rage.
Sometimes, for a fraction of a second, I forget. And then I am frozen with this thing I want to say sitting quietly unspoken in my head as I remember.
When my mom woke me that morning to tell me he'd died in his sleep, I didn't cry. I hung up the phone, looked out the window and thought, "So this is what it looks like without him here."
It looked the same. And I couldn't understand how that could possibly be.
I miss him in a way I can't miss Thomas - and in a way that confused me for the first few days. There's a hole where Thomas should have been, but there's a hole where my dad was. In those first, awful days it felt so much worse than when Thomas died.
Because I knew my dad.
I've finally decided that it's okay to miss them differently. I don't know why this preoccupied me so much, but I was worried about missing one more than the other. I was worried about what that might say about the love I had for each of them.
But as it turns out, I love them both and miss them both - for a million different reasons. And for two common reasons: because we three are a part of each other, and because they both belonged to me.
His hands are gone. He can't hold mine anymore. But I feel him guiding me through these sad, strange days - urging me onward and reminding me that life does go on. And that it can be wonderful, even still.
Because he led by example.
The night he died - before I even knew he was gone - I cried quietly in bed wondering how on earth I'd live without that love when the time came.
I now know that it's still there - that his love will always be with me.
And the friends who came to the visitation and the funeral - and who send cards, flowers, chocolates, food, messages and Mass cards, and left treats at my door - have demonstrated that there is abundant love to be had all around me. I'm once again in grateful awe of the way friends seem to find a way to fill the awful empty spaces with their concern, friendship and love.
I miss my daddy.
But I'm doing okay.