Mom asked if I could believe it has been three years. We were at Wegmans, having breakfast on the third anniversary of Dad's death. She stared off past my left shoulder. It was clear she couldn't believe it had been that long or maybe that short, I wasn't sure which. I waited a moment before saying, in what I hoped was an apologetic tone, yeah, I can. It feels exactly like three years. I'm sure it wasn't the answer she wanted, but it's really the case for me.
Dad was a funeral director and every so often we would about the job. He showed how he kept his banking, sent out bills, and ordered caskets. I liked this and liked having him show it to me. Sometimes I asked about the point of funerals and calling hours which seemed awful to the living and pointless for the dead. Dad explained that they help the living go into and maybe through some of the grieving. It's not about the dead.
When Dad died, we went to the guy who bought his old funeral home and did the arrangements. We met the nun at Cathedral who set up the service. We put the obit Dad wrote for himself in the paper. (Writing your own obit is the kindest thing any of us can do for those we leave behind.) I remember every moment of calling hours. I remember the funeral beginning at the funeral home, proceeding to Cathedral, and ending at the cemetery in a February cold that still lingers.
What doesn't linger is most of what I felt. I remember those feelings but don't feel them much any longer. On the anniversary of his death, on his birthday, at Christmas, or any old day of the week I have moved to a new place.
I told Mom that when I think of him, I smile a little. I smiled just now., the left side of my mouth curled, my eyes squinted a little, and I felt warmth in my chest and behind my eyes.
A friend says the dead are still here, available if we tap into the right line. She's no crackpot. I believe her, but I'm unable to access that line if it exists. Maybe someday, but for now my line is driving his pickup, looking at photographs, and memory. It's enough to help me feel that it has been three years pretty much to the day.
Grief was a place in which I lived, moving there shortly after my short stay in shock. I remained there wandering the streets lost and cold until I found a room for rent and got comfortable there long enough that the place became something else entirely. I still live in grief, but the sun shines there most of the time.
I miss Dad. Sometimes I long for him to just come back already. He's not coming back. He's gone. I don't disbelieve his death and no longer so keenly feel his absence because I'm still here. I understand more of what he did in his life and what I might do with mine.
Yes, it has been three years almost exactly since Dad died. A day before that, we spoke on the phone. At the end, I said, goodnight, Dad. And he said, goodnight, Bri.
Three years is about a thousand days and nights and some nights I hear him tell me goodnight. I smile a little, feel a touch of warmth, and wonder how far away he is. I wish him goodnight, whispering, see you in the morning, Dad. Some mornings, more with every passing day, I do.