Death Day

by - 7:00 PM

This month marks another year since my father died. Even after all this time, his passing still feels like it happened yesterday. The events of that day and the weeks after that felt like a huge blur, like a dream that you faintly remember once you wake up. You cannot remember the details, but you could never forget that it happened at the same time. I wish it were all a dream, but sadly the death of my father was very real.



All these years in but I still feel the loss of my father. There have been so many times when I have said out loud or thought in my head that I wished he was still here. I have repeatedly wondered or imagined his reaction to the things happening in the lives of me and my sisters if he was still with us.  Sometimes, in my most vulnerable moments, I still shed tears thinking of him. 

The loss of a loved one and the grief that comes with it is something that never goes away. We may compartmentalize and we may move on with our lives, but I don’t think that grief ever really goes away. We may move things around in our heads and hearts to make room for the present and the future but somewhere in some back corner of it all we still carry that pain with us. We still carry that loss. We still miss that person and wish we still had them in our lives. 

In a way, the loss of my paternal grandmother when I was younger had prepared me for the death of my father. I spent a lot of time with my grandmother at her home when I was younger and experiencing her death was the first time that I lost someone I was truly close to. I suppose you can say her death softened the blow a bit for me when it came time for my father’s passing. If anything good came out of her death, it would probably be that.

Experiencing the loss of someone who had an integral role in my life made me think of my mortality. It made me wonder if I would be able to leave this world without regrets if I had died unexpectedly (as my father did). It also made me question if I had done right by my father when he was still alive, and if I am doing enough to be worthy of still being here on this earth when he isn’t. It all seems so narcissistic for me to be thinking of myself when I think of my father’s death but that is honestly where my head goes sometimes.

My family and I still talk about my father often: recounting memories with him, talking about how we wish he could have been here with us for a lot of the memorable experiences we were having together since he passed away. Mostly, the conversation goes along the lines of regret that he did not live longer to still be with us. 

My sisters, if I’m not mistaken, have all kept at least one thing that our father owned to remember him by before everything was packed away. I didn’t get or keep anything. I have old photos, but that’s about it. Maybe I should have kept something, but I could not get myself to do so. I felt like keeping something, hanging on to that one material thing, would make me grieve harder. I worried that it would make it harder for me to deal with his sudden death. It would make it a challenge for me to move on. I thought that a clean break from it all was what was best for me. Again, this is something that my grandmother’s death had taught me.

When my grandmother died, our aunt (my father’s older sister), had sold her house and disposed of her belongings. I did not get the chance to ask for anything to keep that she owned. Even if I wanted to, I found out about the sale and disposal of her belongings too late. It was heartbreaking for me. My father and I had wanted her piano, which was in the living room of her home. I had so many memories of that piano. As a toddler, I used to sit there and pretend to play (and later took lessons because of it). My older cousins used to sit and play and teach me the songs they had learned on that piano. My father used to sit there, playing and singing at the same time. Times spent at her home often involved that piano. It was a part of my life with her and I felt so bad that we did not get to keep it. But I later realized that not having a constant reminder helped me to move on from her loss.
 


As I got older, I used to wonder if I would have been able to move on as easily from my grandmother’s death with that piano around. That piano was too huge a reminder, it’s not like you can hide it in some corner unnoticed. Now that my father had passed away, I think that keeping that piano would have been even more heartbreaking. It would have reminded me of my grandmother and my father at the same time. It probably would not have been easy to move on with that kind of a reminder. It was a good thing that we were not able to keep it.

I recently had the idea of recording the song Just Once (by James Ingram) with my sisters in honor of our father. He used to love singing that song and I thought it would be a nice thing for us to do together in tribute to him. We had previously recorded some songs that we had used for his funeral and I think that we should do another one now – this time I plan on including a part of the song as sung by our father himself. My cousin found an old video of him singing the last few parts of the song and hopefully, I can work out some audio editing to add that to what my sisters and I can come up with. I wish we had more songs to choose from since our father used to sing a lot but for some reason, we never recorded anything when he was alive. I feel bad about that. I think it’s one of those things that we took for granted, thinking that we had more time to do things together. I have already done a test run of recording the song mixed with my father’s old audio (which isn’t perfect, the audio is mono while mine is stereo so the mix is not ideal) and I think I have already gotten the hang of the mixing and figuring out how to put everything together. I know it won’t be perfect, but I think it would just be nice to have that one song of us singing together with our father that we can keep as a good memento of the fact that we all sing because of him.

When you think about it, the fact that we “celebrate” death anniversaries seems a little odd. That we celebrate the day we lost someone we love. That day where my father is concerned is not exactly a good memory to have but I chose to spend it with my family recalling the times that he was alive and not when, how, or where he died. As they say, it should be a celebration of that person’s life as opposed to that of their death, and that is what we did. If I got my sisters to record the song that day it would have been perfect. 

Oh well, I’ll try again next time we’re all together.


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