Tamara Willems

here’s what I remember…

February 24th, and here’s what I remember…
a morning phone call from my Mom,
to say that my Dad had died in the night
and could I
make the necessary phone calls
first my sister overseas,
my Aunt Maureen, then
my Aunt Pat and Uncle John
mind racing wondering what numbers I could find
and who to call
everything else becomes a quick
blur of motion
and necessity
a long sometimes seemingly endless battle with
alcohol ended
brain cancer having laid
to
rest

walking my kids to school, carrying a travel cup of coffee
and day after day
crying the five blocks home
heading to my Mom’s, to deal with
the demands of the after-ness
of a life
and a
death

the constant rattle of the phone
never my favourite
intrusion
calls coming from family and friends
conversations peppered with sympathy, grief
bitterness and resentment
and even to some small degree
relief

I remember the day of the funeral
a kind of moving through fog
outside of myself, unsure
and when the minister stops for a brief prayer with the family
before we begin
I remember the bone crushing weight
of grief
the compounding reality
quickly rushing in and surrounding me
In absolute devastation
where every sound becomes
nothing but the unstoppable flood of tears
threatening
to choke me, and I can hardly breathe

I remember after…
picking up my Dad’s hat
and the small box
that now, was all that was left of him
and being surprised at the weight
of only
ashes

just a few days before
I had had to take hold of the front of his coat
to guide him, as he could no longer see well
and sitting him gently in a wheelchair at the hospital
setting each foot in to rest
as I wheeled him to x-ray

I remember the last time
talking to him on phone
telling him, if he needed anything, anything
just to call
and he kind of laughed

I remember going to bed that night
in complete exhaustion
and waking up
already in tears

I remember thinking how very sad
that he had died
how very, very
sad

but mostly I remember
how he used to rub my toes, when they were cold
and make me really good tomato sandwiches,
with very nearly burnt toast
and lots of mayonnaise
because that’s how I liked them

I remember how very smart he was
and how wherever he was,
he liked to just sit quietly
and read

so today, as it is February 24th
today I sit with the memories
of my Dad
while I read

I sit
with a few tears and a smile
at the things I remember
I swallow hard,
and maybe I’ve written this all before….

but this is sometimes how we find the comfort
and the
gratitude even in loss
it’s in the people and the things that
we sit with
and yes, that sit
with
us
when we need them

and so to you this day
be the reason
someone smiles today
and
as the lasting thing
my Dad would always say

be gentle ♥

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