Wednesday, July 14, 2010
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?