Erma Bombeck, one of my all time favorite funny people once said, “If you can’t make it better, you can laugh at it.” Lately, I’ve been thinking about the truth of this statement. Because I’m not gonna lie, dealing with the death of someone you love is hard. Some days it’s really hard. You can feel like you’re doing absolutely fine and the littlest thing will open the floodgates. There is no way to make it better but I have found a few ways to laugh, at least a little.
My Dad passed on a Saturday, New Years Day. My sister, her daughter and husband, and a close family friend, all came to stay with us on that Wednesday. We had Dad’s Memorial Service that Thursday with a small Repast afterwards at our home. All of our visitors were gone the following Wednesday and Thursday, the 12th and 13th. Some of us went on a previously planned small family vacation the 16th to the 21st. And, of course, we left our bathroom bag with all of our necessaries in our hotel room, because, well…I forgot to check the back bathroom.
We came home on a Thursday and picked up Dad’s ashes on Friday. I was holding it all together just fine, until Friday when we were sitting at the funeral home and they brought out a little white rectangular box. Reality hit me and I cried. Cliff carried Dad to the car and made the comment that the box was kind of heavy. I joked that Dad was pretty “dense” since he was only 5’4″ and weighed 180 or so, pounds. It kind of made sense that the box was heavy because, let’s face it, so was Dad.
Once we got home, I was smacked in the face with the realization we have a dog and a cat. Of course, I knew this before, but never had to think of them in regards to someone’s ashes, and so, I didn’t know where to put Dad. Though I could probably put Dad high enough to escape Phoebe, the dog; there is no place high enough to escape Charlie, the cat and the thought of coming home to “Dad” strewn across the floor was a little much.
And so, I put Dad in a place where I felt he’d be safe. I put Dad in the closet under the stairs, just like Harry Potter. I know it was kind of weird, but I told Dad I was sorry. I told him I didn’t know where else to put him. I’m sure he understood, but just in case; a friend at church suggested that I put a bottle of wine in the closet with Dad. We had received a beautiful bottle of Chianti from dear family friends at the Repast, so I put the bottle of Chianti in the closet with him. I’m pretty sure he was pleased. I had the thought of asking if he could be buried with the bottle of wine, but decided that might be a weird request, so I didn’t.
We brought Dad to the National Cemetery the following Thursday and all was well until they wanted to take Dad from me. I held onto the box, tightly. I held it close to my chest and really didn’t want to let go. I had to give myself a minute and tell myself that the ashes in the box were not really Dad. I told myself, but I didn’t really believe myself. Letting go of that box was one of the hardest things I’ve done and there was no way to laugh at it. I cried my way to the car. Pulled myself together and continued on. That’s what Dad would have wanted.
I know where my Dad is and he’s not in a box. He’s not in a cemetery. He’s where we’ve always known he would be. Heaven.
My tatoo, written in Dad’s writing says, “I love you where you are at. Dad” I was thinking about this the other day and with a simple rearranging of words, I can honestly say, “Dad. I love you where you are at.” Save a place for me at the banquet table, because someday I will see you again and it will be a VERY BIG DEAL!