Sunday, June 15, 2008

For Marcy's Dad on Father's Day

It was after midnight before I got up the courage to call Marcy’s father to tell him his only child was dead. It had taken me a while to digest it myself, but I knew it only fair that he also know, even though we were divorced.

I heard his sharp intake of breath and the words, “Oh, my God, no” when I said those words I never thought I would have to hear myself. I asked him to make all the arrangements and call me in the morning. He did as I asked and by morning we knew all the plans. He was functioning on a different level. He was plunging himself into a task so as not to think that his whole world had been shattered. He was numb…it wasn’t real.

In his own words:
“When reality set in, I began to cry and to this day, when thinking about Marcy and alone in my house or my car, the tears form. I always tried to be like my father, successful but not show emotions. I held back a lot of emotions, particularly at the beginning of my grief period. I think that’s how I got through the funeral and the eulogy I gave. When a relative sent me a note saying that I was so courageous for giving that eulogy, I felt special.

At first I had a harder time focusing on tasks. I couldn’t concentrate for long periods of time. I learned at a grief support group that what was happening to me was normal. It was a relief to know I wasn’t crazy. Others talked at these sessions about tasks they had done before their child’s death that they could no longer do. It took me months before I could go back to work for a full day.

After Marcy’s death, everything pleasurable about getting old was gone. My child, who I was very proud of, would no longer be able to do successful things. And I would no longer get the pleasure of her excitement hearing of her adventures in her job. The fact that there is no one to carry on the family name or traditions haunts me. I’m sure Marcy knew how much I loved her although I frustrated her at times with my ways, such as taking days to answer her phone call.

The heartache that comes when the natural order of things is changed, when your child dies before you, is unfathomable. When I hear news about a child who dies from whatever cause, I cry. I cry for the child, but I also cry for the parents who are left behind to live with this tragedy for the rest of their lives.

I did see a psychologist for a while who was of great help to me, and although this may sound trite, the passing of time itself is a great help. You do eventually heal to a certain degree, but you never forget.

In my life now, when I am at a gathering, I always try to tell what I call a Marcy story whenever appropriate, something she did or said that I remember that will bring a smile or a laugh to people. That way she is always with me in good memories. Sometimes I cry and sometimes tears just form, but it makes me feel good to talk about her. And I know it’s a healthy thing to do even though the pain will never leave me.”


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