Another of My Life's Defining Moments
I'm Sorry For Not Knowing
I am a broken person
shattered from what I did not know
too late marks my heart
a painful brand that will weigh on it
everlasting are all the words left unsaid
knowing now your fall leaves me shaken
please be at peace
finally resting and loving yourself
your heart now can be undaunted
your physical shell finally shed
my mind grips at questions unanswered
knowing this decision might have been the right now
please sleep peaceful within my soul
I will hug and cradle you finally
hush and close those eyes for everlasting love is yours to hold
you have changed my life unknowingly
your wings will wash over my mind
please spread them and be free
The dash lights were gleaming, lighting up my father's warm face. It was strange how much it changed after we touched down in his home state. New York hadn't fallen into my sights in years and never had been my home. But, strangely sitting in the back seat marveling at the strangle twinkle in my father's eyes, I felt like it was something special. My mom's voice cracked into my pretty picture, snapping me back to reality. This was not a vacation. What hailed us to my father's birthplace was anything but pleasant, and chills slid down my spine as I felt choked by the heat pumping out of the air vents. Boy, you sure could tell my parents are Floridians! I'm uncomfortably hot; this was going to be a long weekend.
We arrived late. After a crashing scene of airports, wheel chairing mom around, stress, navigating in our rental car to the hotel, trying to find some normalcy was the only option. I hadn't traveled with my parents, especially like this in years and I was remembering why. My mom popped in and out of the hotel to check in while my father and I sat in silence. The best news came from her as she huffed into her seat, there was a bar in the hotel and it was still open. Simultaneously my father’s and my voice melded, “Thank God!” After a nice conversation and three vodka mixed drinks for dad, a bud light with a savounoughn blanc back for me, and two glasses of pinot nior for my mom, sleep was welcomed warmly.
The next morning the weather matched our moods, thick, stormy, gloomy, thunder-crashing, and rainy. As I sat across the diner table pushing my over easy eggs around with my piece of bacon, I actually realized where I was. Sinking in was the pain and heart break we were all about to walk into. My parents eyes reflected the terrible feelings in my chest and stomach. My father answered a call from his older brother, nodded a few times, said, “Ok, Paulie, see you later,” and hung up. To my horror, Uncle Paulie was working and Aunt Nancy was out running errands, who can function normally when dealing with what they are? Hastily, we paid the check and made our way down the wet roads to Burr Road where my family was beginning to congregate.
Grabbing both my mother’s and my bags from the backseat I sped to the front door before my dad even let the engine rest. Immediately, I was embraced by arms that I had missed for eight years. Aunt Nancy had just gotten back and I was so thankful. We all gathered around her familiar dining room table with coffee in hand talking about the plans for the day. My cousin Melanie was so strong and beautiful through grief stricken eyes. All of this I could barely wrap my head around. We were going to be staying at Paulie and Nancy’s for most of the day, then going to the funeral home for a “viewing”, back to the house to eat and visit with the family, ending with the funeral at night. A wave of familiarity burned every inch of my body. How does God take two children? I was just so confused, but proud with my family’s rallied strength.
Walking into the funeral home, gripping my mother's hand made all of the memories of being here before assault me. I walked around hugging every familiar face as tightly as I could. All of my father’s siblings were there and so much of the extended family, mixing with the friends from decades back and ones that only knew my cousin. Love took over the melancholy feeling as everyone gathered, hugged, chatted, cried, and shared. The sight was a beautiful healing moment.
All through the viewing I held onto my beautiful cousins, my strong grandfather, my loving aunts and uncles for the much needed give and take of strength. I am so thankful for every person who came to show how much just one life can impact us all. Even though it was too soon, a huge impression of kindness and goodness was left where the physical no long strides.
Our day ended sitting all together in rows surrounded by our loved ones and pictures of how great of a family we are, again I was reminded why I am so proud of my last name and the bindings it brings to cherished, good-natured hearts. Aunt Nancy climbed to her feet after the priest weaved a beautiful memorial of my kindhearted cousin who was at times misunderstood, aloof, or quiet. The words that emanated from a heartbroken mother are ones that will be imprinted on my heart for the rest of my life because of their beautiful truths. “I know that Danny is at peace.” And in the hearts of all of us, a sigh of relief cradled us, believing and wanting only that for our beloved’s soul.