Afterthought – Friday Fictioneers

It’s time for Friday Fictioneers, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, our very talented fairy blog mother. I thank her for her dedication and leadership of this group. Thanks also to The Reclining Gentleman for the this week’s beautiful photo, just in time for Valentine’s day.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly writing group, challenged write a 100-word story based on a photo prompt. If you’re interested in joining in, here are instructions. All are welcome.

PHOTO PROMPT © The Reclining Gentleman
PHOTO PROMPT © The Reclining Gentleman

Genre: Realistic Fiction (100 words)

Afterthought

The dust never settled in Rhea’s house. Only the broken remained, intact and unpatched. The faucet still dripped its feeble presence.

The door creaked with Janie’s entrance.

“Here. It was grandpa’s favorite color.” Janie offered a bouquet of yellow daffodils, picked fresh from the neighbor’s garden.

It didn’t matter then. “Why would it matter now?”

Janie shrugged and skipped away, leaving the splayed flowers behind.

After washing a vase, Rhea posed the stems in a vase where they exceeded their expected stay.

Every time she wanted to throw them out, she sniffed the bright petals. “Maybe I never knew him.”

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For more stories from the Fictioneers, click here.

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Aside

A good friend asked me, “Honestly, do you think you’re the first person to have regrets after losing a loved one?”

Of course, I’m not the only one. Regrets are universal and to be expected. Yet there is also the expectation and urging to let them go.

I’ve returned to this regret stage many times in my grieving process, now in it a little over a month since the loss of my father. Just when I feel I’ve made progress, it rears its ugly head. Because I was my dad’s primary caregiver, I suppose it is only natural that these regrets surface and I feel the need to own them. And especially because I never saw him again after his sudden heart attack, his death felt surreal like it never happened. It might even seem more normal to have regrets under these circumstances; I may be hard pressed to find anyone who wouldn’t.

After his death, I read an article that suggested I list my regrets and then weigh in on whether on not they were truly valid. My itemized list of regrets, real or imagined, was three pages long before I decided to stop, knowing deep down it was self-punishing and negative. I’m not sure what the point of this exercise was really.

While many of these regrets may have been isolated thoughts taken out of the context of real life circumstances or truly couldn’t be helped unless I was perfect, living in a perfect world, they remained. I will spare you all the details, but just say the scope ranged from the management and quality of my dad’s care to an analysis of the priorities in my life. Death has done a number on me.

I was overwhelmed and shut my notebook and haven’t returned to that list since.

The senior population, who included some of my dad’s friends, had cautioned me, “Don’t. Even. Go. There,” with finger wagging included. My mother promised me, “I don’t want ANYONE to do this when I die.” She was most convincing. She has told me to distract myself and think of something else, immediately.

Lose the thought. Not so simple.

There is this lingering pull to resist letting go. Are the regrets keeping the reality of the death at bay? It has occurred to me that processing these regrets over and over may keep my dad more present even if the focus is on the past. I know that makes very little sense.

The truth is I wouldn’t want my dad regretting anything about his life, wherever he is. What would be the purpose of that? The same should go for me and the living.

The three-page list I wrote is now just one big blur of regret. I actually think that’s progress. Soon, I hope I can kick those regrets to the curb and replace them with loving memories only. Regrets begone.

My good friend, who wanted to remain anonymous, offered this beautiful poem to me. I wanted to share it because it gave me such comfort. Maybe there is someone else out there who needs to read this now. I hope it helps.

When I pass

When I pass,
Things might seem amiss,
No more phone calls, or emails,
Or a welcoming kiss

When I pass,
Cry not for me please,
Instead, think of our lives,
And all the fond memories

When I pass,
Oh please don’t you fret,
Wipe the tears from your eyes,
And live free of regret

When I pass,
And enter God’s gate,
You will see me again,
Take your time I will wait

When I pass,
Know this for it’s true,
There wasn’t a day in your life,
That I didn’t love you

Regrets Begone

Aside

I now have four items remaining to check off my list: thank you cards, going through my dad’s items in storage, selecting a marker for my dad’s grave, and writing a scathing letter to the management of my dad’s former residence. I will take great pleasure in that last item, and I know my dad would be so pleased with me to see me follow through. He often wrote letters to the newspapers with his opinions.

The management at his senior living community seemed only concerned with leasing my dad’s now vacant apartment. They had left me a message inquiring about the status and requesting the keys promptly due back at the end of the month. I was calm and cool until I realized that they had taken his name off his mailbox. I simply had asked what happened to his mail and what was the next step. The manager accused me of “disrespecting her,” firing back she had no idea what happened to his name on his mailbox. Didn’t she manage the place?

It was then that I expressed that she and her staff had zero compassion and not once had reached out to me or my family. As if I were in some dystopian novel, she explained to me that that it was against their policy to reach out to families who experience a death. Considering the population they serve, senior citizens, this policy is ridiculous, callous, and unacceptable. She then promptly asked if I would like to do a walk-through of his apartment. His empty apartment where he died. I was livid, stunned, but mostly numb. All I could say was, “No. Do I really need to be there?”

It will make me feel better to write this letter to the corporate office, especially if it prevents such horribleness from happening to someone else. Still, I feel I have this checklist to only delay the end of these death-related tasks as long as possible, because when they are all done, it will be over. What will be over? Then, I realize it will never be over. I know it’s my new reality that my life must go on, missing someone dear.

My dad is absent from my life, but I don’t like to think he is gone, only that he is somewhere else. It helps me to think he’s having a wonderful time and that he’s at peace. His version of heaven would probably be to spend it at the horse races where at the end of each race he would collect huge winnings; something he clung to in his life having no importance “up” there.

I talk to my dad, both out loud and to myself. I’d like to think he’s lingering and a couple of quirky things have happened; towels falling off their racks, his hat popping off the shelf, and a bottle of shaving cream turning up in my sister’s car. My mind is really open to anything at this point. I’ve taken up running only to hear myself breathe. When I ran before, I’d worry about distance and pace. Now, I just run; it doesn’t matter how far or how fast.

The favorite part of my run. Who cares where I am.
The favorite part of my run.

I’m also trying to meditate to shed all the rut thinking that comes with grief, namely the endless regret that manifests with losing someone. I’m told it’s all a part of grieving and it will get better, and that our grieving is as deep as our love. Grief is the price we pay for love.

Still I seek answers. I even ask Google questions like, “Why did you die? Where are you now? Does everyone have an appointed time to die?” Google is no help. I  went to a metaphysical store that provides readings, hoping to meet the Certified Angel Therapy Practitioner. Yes, there is such a thing. She wasn’t there as her job is only a summer gig. I may return to meet a Spiritual Medium. Don’t judge.

I left the metaphysical store with a pink rock: a rhodochrosite, 4th chakra for divine love self-acceptance. It will have to suffice and gives me solace. I grip it in my fingers and feel its smoothness, and I pray.

Shes a beauty.

Power or no power, I believe. Still moments when I am flooded with despair, awash in tears, feeling the depth of loss a little deeper still, I just want him back.

What’s the silliest question you ever Googled? Do you believe in the power of rocks and minerals? Have you ever used a Spiritual Medium?

The Solace of a Pink Rock

No More – Friday Fictioneers – 02/07/14

It’s time for Friday Fictioneers. Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, our wonderful host, for her dedication to this group. I am so grateful to her.

Thanks to Dawn for the photo this week.

For more fabulous stories from the Fictioneers, click here.

Genre: General Fiction (100 words)

Copyright – Dawn M. Miller

No More

Mary could never get enough light. Whenever she watched news about missing children, she thought of her Tommy as if she were experiencing it fresh. Mary dragged in lamps from garage sales for the missing kids on TV, and she left the light on for them, too.

We stopped counting the years when our kids graduated from high school. Tommy would have been twenty the morning Mary got the knock on her door. She wept, gripping tears, while her body convulsed, demanding their release. Then she collected herself, and methodically removed each lamp from the house, her shining light extinguished.

Remembering The Silver Fox

I found myself wandering around in the woods the day my father-in-law died. For 24 years I knew him, and it passed in a blink of an eye. What’s it all for? Life, death, it’s seamless. One day he is here with us, the next he’s gone.

Fred was “The Silver Fox,” quick on his feet, spry, charming, a gentleman with a huge heart, although that was his little secret.

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Once early on when I was sick, delirious with fever, and I wanted to have a glass of water by my bedside. Fred kept removing my glass. When I awoke, the glass of water would be nowhere in sight. “I need water. I’m parched,” I told my husband. He would bring it to me, and then zap, Fred would whisk it away. I didn’t know the extent of his OCD then. Later, I laughed.

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In my twenties, Fred told me, as he did everyone else, “You’re not all there.” The very first time I heard this, I wanted to cry.

Later I got it. He would say, “You’re not all there,” and point his finger to his head. I then laughed in agreement. You’re right, I’m not all there, Fred. Who is? The sooner you realize this in your life, the easier you’ll breathe.

For those who think “They’re all there,” they’re the most confused of us all. As time passes you by, you realize you know less, not more.

Woods

He always brightened someone’s day with small gifts. Me, my husband, his kids, his grandchildren, gas attendants, wait staff at restaurants he frequented, staff at his son’s work….he gave us baked goods, sweet treats, trinkets, statues of dogs and cats, jewelry boxes painted with religious figures, glass sculptures, books, paperweights with butterflies, latch hook rugs with seagulls, condom holders….things that were, uh, puzzling. Okay, things we would never buy for ourselves.

In one of our last conversations, he still wanted to give my sons a present.

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He was a giver in abundance. He wasn’t trying to impress anyone. He just wanted you to smile, shrug off your worries if only for a few moments, and “lighten up” as he would say. It’s just who he was.

I think about my own life and who I touch, who is on the receiving end. How can I give the way he did? I find myself clutching onto fear and worry. Why? In the end, all we have in this life is each other.

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I will miss you, Fred.

In loving memory
Thomas Fredrick Reese
December 27, 1934 – March 23, 2013