Monday, November 27, 2017

Missing comes last

My dad

James D. Cook
1933 - 2017

Where there has been love, tears come first. 
Where there has been suffering, relief comes next.
The plans – what to say, where to be – wrestle you from your moments of reflection. 

You're surprised. 

You think you're doing well on top of that wave, not falling in like you thought you would.
Because the business of dealing with death feels, blessedly, like coping with death.

Missing comes last.

Missing comes in line at the supermarket.
When a song plays.
When a photo surfaces.
When a memory  - the way they looked when they were amused, frustrated, relieved – appears before your eyes while you're looking for a parking space somewhere.
It comes with knowing you'll deal with some thing alone now,  for the first time. 

You begin to forget what they looked like when they were failing
When they went quiet
When they stopped smiling

Now, while missing is happening, you're hearing the sound of their laugh again
The feel of their goodbye hug
The look on their face when they first spotted you in a restaurant, and raised a hand, "Right here."

You forget how you worried
Sat in the car and cried
Prayed in guilty silence for a swift and gentle end

Now, when missing is happening, you reflect on what they taught you:
Not to take yourself too seriously
Not to hold grudges
Not to lose your sense of humor – ever. EVER.
Not to waste your gifts if you are lucky enough to know what they are.
To be fair, forgiving, and above all, generous.

You wonder if you said "Thank you" enough.
You wonder if you said "I love you" enough.
You wonder if you did enough about it when you missed them.

When missing is happening, you don't think so, even though you know you did.  

You fall in. 

The wave tosses you, swallows you.

The feelings stop you in your tracks, take your breath away.

You cry. In your kitchen, in your car, in a shop when the sales person hands you a top and says "Is this too bright for your event?"

You remember more every day, and it  feels like too much.

This is you, walking in the restaurant, looking for that hand. 

And this, when missing is happening, is when your loved person, who has already taken their place beside you, says, "Right here."


Goodbye, Dad.


  1. How very beautifully written. I'm so very sorry for your loss.

    1. Thank you, Gigi. Every day is different but we're all sticking together.

  2. Oh Susan, this is so lovely but so so sad too. My father is very unwell at the moment and I can relate to this so much. I'm sorry for your loss.

    1. Thank you Deb, and I'm sorry. It's harder than anything to see someone struggle to rally. Good, healing thoughts from me.

  3. So well said Susan. I especially like the part of remembering only the healthy, happy memories. I can just see your Dad's eyes light up when you arrived to meet him.

    1. You were pretty special to him MAW-reen and you are very special to me.

  4. This is beautiful. I am so very sorry for your loss and hope for peace for you and your family. xoxoxoxo

    1. It has helped more than you may think to break from the worry and wondering to snark about Trump with you. I'm serious, too.

  5. So beautifully written, Susan. Your dad is with my dad. Does he like playing cards?

    1. Well, I don't know about cards, but if they meet, there will definitely be golf and clubhouse shenanigans.

  6. I am so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful tribute for all of us who have lived with a parent with incurable disease. Brought me to tears. You are not alone!

    1. Thank you, Haralee, for letting me know it touched you. It's clear to me that these stages lead into one another, and that where there is pain will be some form of comfort.

  7. I'm sorry for all the suffering loss brings us. I lost my dad to Alzheimer's too. This December will be 2 years. I still sometimes forget he's gone, then remember and the loss hits again just like it did 2 years ago.

    1. Karen, thank you. I do understand that completely. You learn that it comes and goes on its own terms, most definitely.

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  9. Be still my heart, Susan. This is absolutely beautiful and I intend to save it in my jewelry box where more momentous items are stored than jewelry. I'm thinking of all of you in this time of sadness. Sending hugs!

    1. Oh, Kathy, thank you so much for such lovely words. We're all finding our places in these stages, but I know Dad's spirit is strong. I've already asked him a couple of what-would-you-do questions. That's my plan, to keep doing that.

  10. Susan, So sorry for your loss. I know what it's like to lose a beloved father. Every time I hear the song, "Moon River" by Andy Williams (more often than you'd imagine), it takes me back to my father. I wish I had the right words, except know how lucky you are to have had a wonderful Dad. Not everyone receives that gift.

  11. Susan, this is so beautiful and you honor your Dad with your thoughtful and heartfelt words. I have an image of seeing you and your Dad enjoying dinner together at the Centennial years ago, and how special a relationship you obviously enjoyed. I hope the memories that bring tears to your eyes will also soothe your soul as you cope with such profound loss. Peace to you and your family.