These last few days, one of the many ways that Sal has been incredibly helpful has been to help me prioritize the list of things that have to be done that day. Believe me, if you’re ever in a stressful, overwhelming situation, have someone you trust by your side whose job it is to manage your list for you.
I look at my list now, and I realize that so much of it has to change. When they took my dad away last night, my world shifted; before, my list was all about preparing for him to go, and now, it’s all about figuring out how we go on.
The crew from the cremation place came to pick him up last night after we decided we were ready. They were very kind, and very professional — matter of fact, but supportive and calming. Because he was a veteran, they covered him in a flag before he left the house. They patiently but firmly explained what was going to happen next, and what we needed to be ready to do over the next several days.
And then they, and dad, were gone. Now, it’s my turn. I need to be kind, and supportive, and patient. And professional. Because like those guys, I have an important job to do, and no matter how I feel, I need to help a grieving family work through a very long and difficult list of steps.
After they left, my husband and friends put me in a car and drove me to the beach, armed with a Zephyrhills bottle filled with Jack & Diet, so that I could finally have myself a good cry. The thing is… I didn’t.
I haven’t had more than four seconds of consecutive tears since he left us. At first I was holding it together while I waited for my husband to get back. Then I was holding it together until they took Dad away. Now I’m still holding it together, and it’s all because of that damned list.
A few hours ago when I went to bed, I started to cry and then just… stopped. Sal helpfully told me to let it out. I remember telling him that I could either cry or I could sleep, and that sleep would do me more good.
Now, I’m awake at dawn, and I’m reading through the many Facebook comments and text messages that I didn’t see last night. (Thank you, all of you.) I shouldn’t be spending the time doing that, but catching up on social media is what I do when I wake up and haven’t yet made the leap out of bed. It’s part of my routine… So it’s allowed.
Instead of blogging, I should be up and working on something productive. But I know I need — I need — to write when I struggle with difficult thoughts or feelings. It helps me process, and it clarifies things for me in my head. And that’s important right now; I have a lot to figure out and do, so being clear is important.
Plus, I can do it without waking Sal, who’s sleeping next to me.
Soon I’ll get up and get ready for the day. Over breakfast I’ll reprioritize the list, and see what has to be done today.
Scratch that… The one saving grace now is that none of it has to be done today. Any deadlines — an apt word, under the circumstances — that we had are now irrelevant. Everything on the list was prioritized based on what we could get done while dad was with us. Now it’s all just a matter of what can be done when.
I’m not at all sure where to start.