Six Months, No More Yellow Form … and where do we go from here?

Our friend Dan talks about Dad

Today’s significance almost slipped by. On the 17th of the two previous months, I wrote about “4 months with the yellow form” and “5 months with the yellow form.”

Today, 6 months after we put the do not resuscitate order on our our refrigerator door, the door is bare again. I can’t even find the form I swore I would hang onto and possibly make an origami “something” with.”

Dad passed away on July 2 and I suppose August 17 will truly be “just another day.” But to close things out for the “yellow form series,” a few thoughts:

Changes

Even though they say “don’t make any drastic changes after losing a loved one,” I am on the cusp of making some big changes. I suppose my situation is a bit different than, say, totally unexpectedly losing a spouse who was completely healthy. We have known this day was coming and, with it, a change in my options for how my days would be structured.

Also, our house is so much quieter. The cat who had become accustomed to being “accidentally” let out by Dad, always to my frustration and his amusement, stares at the door, wondering why her adventures have been curtailed.

We are finally getting used to not having to strategize to have coverage to leave the house. We can just walk out when we need to!

Letting Go of Perfection

Holy heck this part could be its own blog (or book). Every time I read about someone who passed away “surrounded by loved ones” or hear someone set a tableau of the psalm they read to their dying loved one, or the song they sang to them, I have to remind myself that there is no perfect way.

Dad died, alone, but I had visited a few hours prior, the last family member to see him. In my lighter moments, I think he to some extent knew there was only one way to get rid of me, and that was to not be there! I know he was with the spiritual presence he needed, though, and that is much more perfect than any of us could provide.

Humor Matters

I clung to humor throughout the caregiving process. I don’t see how you can forgo humor and survive.

Clear on the Right

Finally, for this brief reflection, I will share something Dad always said while he was the passenger in any car. His “job” as he saw it was to monitor oncoming traffic in order to tell the driver when it was clear to proceed by saying “Clear on the Right!” He did it with such gusto (usually because we were on our way to the bar and he was frustrated with my conservative, slow driving (see “humor” above)) and relished his one responsibility in a world where he no longer had much control.

Thursday, I had the urn with his ashes in the truck with me after his funeral. Today, I had the box with his ashes in it on the car seat next to me after I returned the loaner urn to the funeral home (honestly — every time I saw my reminder on the computer screen that said “loaner urn,” I thought “now THERE is a symbol of this season of my life). Both times, Thursday and then today, I wondered if, against all reason, I might hear “clear on the right” coming from the seat next to me.

I guess it’s up to us to navigate without him now.

I pray he is at peace.