by Earl Buchan
(Vancouver BC Canada)
Sunday July 10th I received a phone call from a doctor telling me that My Mum had died suddenly that day. While I was able to talk with my Dad it was clear that he was beside himself with sadness. They were each others' best friend and spouse for over 45 years. At first I honestly couldn't believe it, like some bad joke had been told only to wake up and find out that it was all a dream. I called my Dad in the morning to hear him weep even more, and finally give me a list of relatives that needed to know. I made the calls and felt good about the fact that I was getting through this just fine. I knew that I'd be going to visit my Dad the next day and I had planned on being a rock for him. A ferry ride later I was walking up to their old house.
My Dad sat on the front steps crying. A shell of the man I've known him to be he sat there looking frail and old for the first time. I held him without saying a word. I didn't know what to say. We went inside, prayed together a few times because he wanted to, and just sat together. I heard of how Mum was the best thing that ever happened to him. I heard him question whether he could go on without her. I heard him be so very thankful for the gift she was to him over the years. We held each other and cried for what seemed like all day.
I knew one of the reasons I had to come up was to help him get to the funeral home to sign all of the necessary documents for cremation. We tried to find humour in the uncomfortable situation and managed to laugh at unlikely things. Driving home we drank coffee together with the windows rolled down. I saw my old Dad back again during that drive home. Then we walked in the house.
My Mum died so suddenly that the house looks as though she were there only 30 minutes ago and just stepped out for something from the store. A sweater folded over the chair, notes of encouragements to her friends half written.
We sat down again. My brother called and we talked for a bit. I had to head home that day and left my Dad in better spirits than when I had arrived. It wasn't until a friend picked me up from the ferry to drive me home that I looked out ahead of me and said out loud 'My Mom died.' The tears came, and while I held it together until I arrived at home it has been difficult ever since. I feel as though someone has taken out a kidney and yet the world passes by as though nothing has happened. I feel so completely alone, and yet I have to be at work and pretend to act normal. I have to still be a Father to my children. My wife hasn't been through this and while I know she loves me, she clearly doesn't have the slightest idea how to listen on these matters.
I found myself on Google looking up the stages of grief and ultimately finding my way here. While I feel this is a message in a bottle I hope to read the stories of others. Stories that will feel like a distant echo reminding me that many have been to this place before me, and I'm in good company.