I don’t remember in what order things happened but here are a few things that stand out for me the weekend that he died in no particular order.
My sisters and I received word from my brother on a Friday afternoon. It was shocking, unexpected, hard to wrap my head around. I went home immediately, told my husband and daughter, and we cried for a little while. We left for Vegas that evening to help my mom and brother. I remember being in automatic mode. Pack, get gas, drive. I called some friends during the drive to let them know about my dad. “How are you doing, E?” Not sure, in shock, don’t know how to feel, hasn’t set in yet really. Have you ever had that feeling that something huge just happened and you don’t know how to feel about it? My eyes felt fixed open wide and my consciousness was hovering just above my body.
There was one night that my mom, brother, and I told stories about my dad and we laughed and laughed so hard that we were crying. My dad did some outlandish things, and this led to many funny stories over the years. My brother, Eli, and sister, Tamara, are really good at sharing these. Like the time my dad walked into Best Buy and asked to buy a Netflix. He was funny, even when he wasn’t trying to be.
That weekend we looked at old family photos, many of my mom and dad as a young couple. This was fun and sad at the same time. Is there a word for that? Something that feels good to do but also feels sad?
When I went into his home to see what kind of cleaning out we’d have to do, it was eery and felt lonely. The place smelled and his bathroom door was closed. He died in that room in an unintentional and messy way. Damn, it was sad. We were going to have to deal with that mess somehow. We wound up hiring a biohazard company to clean up the bathroom. That entire day sucked for so many reasons and when the biohazard guy came out of the bathroom to talk to my mom about how much it was going to cost, I cried. I wasn’t able to bring myself to look in the bathroom before it was cleaned but I did after. He still had his pants hanging on a hook on the back of the bathroom door.
He lived in a condo owned by someone else. We needed to move his things out asap for the owner, who by the way wasn’t the greatest throughout this process. Given all of our work schedules and that we didn’t live in the area, we only had that weekend to do most of the work.
We knew very little about what he wanted for his body after his death. He was not religious, probably atheist, and didn’t have time for ceremony and ritual. Add that to the ever-growing list of difficult and timely decisions for us to make.
He didn’t leave a valid will, and we’d have to wade through the long and arduous probate process for his meager estate.
My brother cooked us dinner. After a long day of finding new homes for my dad’s belongings, that dinner was one of the most caring and delicious meals I’ve ever had. Not only did it taste good but I know my brother did it as a way of taking care of us all. Thanks, bro. It was much needed.
My family was so caring and gentle with each other. We all pitched in to clean out my dad’s place and although we needed to do it quickly for various reasons, it felt rushed. In 2-3 days most of his stuff was given away and most of his condo was empty. I had this feeling that he had been erased. That his whole life – everything he treasured – had been so easily gotten rid of. My dad really loved his things and after he was gone, those things didn’t really mean anything. What a lesson that was for me.
It was a tough few days.