There was a message for me when I got into work. All he said was, "Call me right away." I knew he was in the car. And I knew it was something bad. All I could think of in the 10 seconds it took to dial and connect was that our daughter was in the hospital or worse. Instead, all he said was, "Dad's dead." I could barely hear him and he had to repeat those horrible words. "It happened just like we knew it would." I asked him where he was going, and he said, "Home. I'm going to house." I said, "I'm leaving right now."
When I got home, he was upstairs cleaning up the playroom. He'd already done the dishes and straightened up the living room. He didn't, couldn't, stop moving. He barely looked at me as he talked, which he did almost nonstop. It took me 15 minutes to corner him long enough to give him a hug. As he walked from room to room, apologizing for his compulsive tidying ("You know me, I need to keep busy. This is what I do." ), I followed like a shadow. Wringing my hands. Asking questions. I needed to gather information as compulsively as he had to clean. I need to understand that the man I loved as much as my own father was gone.
I've been very lucky in my life. I haven't lost many people. My parents are both in good health (one close call aside). All four of my grandparents are rocking their 80s. When my great grandmothers died (I knew all four of them), of course we mourned, but somehow those deaths were gentler. They'd lived long, mostly happy lives. My father-in-law was in his early 70s. He has three grandchildren under 7. His daughter is engaged. He was supposed to walk her down the aisle. He was supposed to swing her around the dance floor. He was supposed to see her marry The Most Wonderful Guy. He had much left to do.
In a day or so, Miss Monkey will head up for the services. And the fact that I've been included in all the planning like any daughter-in-law would has been a tremendous comfort. The days ahead are going to be hard. But what I'm starting to really realize...and actually believe...is that this family, his family, is still mine and will always be. For that, I am forever grateful. xo, Evie