Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Saying goodbye

Her Zaidy
London, ON, September 2009

My dad, pictured here hugging our daughter, Dahlia, passed away ten days after this photo was taken. As he and my mom were heading back home after a visit to London, this was the last time any of us saw him.

Almost ten months since our daughter and her brothers first learned what real loss felt like, it's still enormously difficult to look at pictures from this day, much less share them here. Yet as the all-encompassing darkness of grief slowly gives way to a longer-term, permanent form of emptiness, I find myself looking for ways to remember.

And this was a good visit, something I'm glad we had before we lost him. The kids got to spend enormous amounts of time with him, from wake-up to tuck-in, and were able to celebrate birthdays - Dahlia's and Debbie's - as well. We all got to talk, to share and to simply be. In so many ways, it was a poignant way to say goodbye.

But here's the thing: I've never been good at goodbyes. And as my father had been sick for years - he had his first cardiac bypass surgery when Dahlia was just 10 days old, and he met her for the first time in the hospital lobby the night before he went into the OR - I had been, somewhat morbidly, taking pictures of him, alone, with my mom, with the kids, with us, for years.

I always thought, "What if?" Deep down inside, I knew where his increasingly frail health would lead. But I didn't want to lose him without having at least taken the opportunity to capture these snippets of togetherness in some small way.

I'm glad I did. Not because it was easy. It wasn't. But because it left us with that much more to hold on to.

Your turn: How do you remember important members of your family?


lissa said...

What an incredibly poignant picture, and deeply moving (as always) entry to your Journal on Life, Carmi...I'm better Dahlia cherishes this picture as much as you, and the memories more profoundly than the picture.

As you know, I remember my mom by going to the Lake at Centennial Park. Sam and I were there just last week, and I have pictures yet to be posted. This year, she sent me my heron in another way - 2 days earlier, flying over my car as Sam and I were stuck near Cote de Liesse in relentless traffic on the way to see Bobby McFerrin at the JazzFest!

But this year's gift from my mom at Centennial Park were mama and baby ducks, and the pictures will show how special they were.

BTW, you have yet to tell me about your own experiences at that lake...someday soon...?


Peter said...

Yesterday I attended the funeral of "Aunt" Marg, a second cousin in reality but I never knew her or "Aunt" Do or "Uncle" Gord as anything else. In attendance was my mother, going on 78, her brother (my only REAL uncle) who is 83 and an assortment of 3rd and 4th cousins, some of whom I had never met.
It struck me that I would be attending more funerals than weddings in the upcoming years, as the older crew of nieces and nephews were married off and the younger bunch a ways from it, and it saddened me at how suddenly it seemed that we arrived at this point in all of our lives. Mine had been filled with, well...myself - raising my children, socializing, working and not making near enough effort to get to some of the family functions that had been put together over the years. Some of theirs had been the same but the 'old guard' (my mom, her brother, Marg, Do and Gordon and their respective spouses) had shared their years, stuck by each other, traveled together, cottaged, Christmas'd and so on. Nice.
I think I'll make the effort more often and ensure my children know who 'their people' are and, hopefully, some day one of them will see my sister, brother, cousins and I in the same way and have the same admiration for us.

In the words of James Taylor:
Shower the people you love with love, show them the way that you feel.

young-eclectic-encounters said...

Your most poignant and thought provoking posts are about your family. I enjoy them all as they make me think about my precious family. One of the biggest reasons for doing my photography and blog is to show my family the world as I see it; both the beauty and the pain. With all the medical problems that I have my kids have grown up not knowing when my health will take a turn for the worse and I'll be in the hospital, or take a turn for the better. I have found that my camera has is of great use for showing my kids a part of me they would never otherwise see. I have also benefited by sharing this with others and having others share with me, but my family is 1st. One of my big goals is to turn my blog into a book for my kids.

Anonymous said...

This is something I am wrestling with these days, as my own father is in a hospital/nursing care facility. I am so grateful that he made his own epic journey 2 years ago, visiting each of his children in their own homes and simply being with us. I took a lot of pictures.

Twain12 said...

thank you for sharing these very private moments and your pain. 3 years ago my Son decided to take his HLTA from Afghanistan in Germany to visit with my Family. He hasn't seen them since he was a child. I decided on the spur of the Moment to meet him there and also visit my Family. Little did i know that this would be the last time i would see him and my Mother. He got killed a Month later driving over an IED and my Mother unexpectedly died almost exactly a month after him. But i'm grateful to this day that the universe guided me to make the trip because these goodbyes that we don't realize will be our last mean so much.

sage said...

Nice photo--I've written about a photo I took of my maternal grandparents just two weeks before my grandfather's death. I was nine at the time and they'd given me a Kodak instamatic camera for Christmas. He died early in January. Sadly, I haven't been able to find that photo, probably the last to be taken of the two of them together.

Heidi said...

Thanks for this post... it's such a good reminder to cherish every moment we have with the people we love, and to capture as much of it as possible. Photographs are a great way to do that, but so are letters. Old-fashioned snail mail. That way you'll always have the words they've written to you, and they'll cherish the ones you wrote to them.

Great blog, by the way! I just stumbled across it, and I'm really enjoying it!

theMuddledMarketPlace said...

their smell:lavender polish, chanel perfume, pipe tobacco, cigars, the smeel of certain mints as I pass someone on the street

sounds: billiard balls, some old car engines, the tapping of metal reinforcers on the bottom of mens shoes

fredamans said...

My dad has been gone 2 years today.

I feel with you.