I talked to Dad today. If nothing else, I have to say that buying that house in Indiana was worth the expense in the increased amount of time I've spent with Dad. I can't imagine any other reason I would have for heading back to Indiana every other month or so. That sounds bad. I like visiting him, I like when he visits me, but neither of us seem to find the time. The house has motivated me to visit frequently, which makes the house the bonus part of seeing Dad.
During our conversation, Dad commented on some event that happened a long while ago, then referenced it a watershed moment in his life: when his father died. He mentioned it casually, but it broke the flow of the conversation for me.
I've been having dreams of loss frequently as of late. In the first one I had, Dad had died. I had cried the inconsolable, sobbing wracks of loss in my dream, with whole body shakes. I recall Kris trying to console me, and being completely unable to do so. I woke up crying. Only a call to Dad later that day alleviated my sorrow.
The next up to die in my dreams was Kris. That one resulted in a waking cry fest so bad that even Kris, fully alive, warm and next to me in bed, had troubles calming me.
I've had other dreams of loss since, but none as bad as those first two. Sure, the dogs died one at a time, but that's a mixed blessing sometimes.
So, when Dad mentioned his dad dying, an event had happened fifteen years ago, the memories of loss from these dreams overwhelmed me. I changed the subject quickly and asked just how he made it through the death of his dad, because I'm fairly sure his death is going to crush me, as would Mom's death or Chris' or BJ's or Kris'. Sure, Dad's had time to recover/heal from his dad's death, but making it past the point where one can start to heal, I'm not sure I can make it that far.
Dad told me that, you know what, he's had a good life. That he'd rather I celebrated his life when he was gone, rather than mourn its loss. That he'd rather I remember him happy instead of remembering him through the pain of loss.
I promised to do my best, but that, yeah, it's still going to hurt like hell.