The door frame in my bedroom is coated in a thick layer of glossy white paint. Because of this, my door makes a loud sticking sound when it’s opened.
It’s the alarm every morning to summons me from my slumber.
This morning, it is extra loud. I sit up at attention as my Daddy’s friend, Debbie peaks in and says: “You need to come be with your dad.”
My bed in the corner on the opposite side of the room, and my feet don’t touch the ground until I’m two steps from my glossy white door frame.
Rushing to my father’s side, I sit on the stool beside his bed as he is experiencing agonal respiration — his last, dramatic breaths.
I stroke his hand while his soul transitions from his painful reality unto the free bliss of being in the presence of Jesus.
His longtime partner is on the other side painfully crying, while my dad’s friend waits by the glossy white door frame in my father’s room.
I don’t have tears in my eyes. I can’t cry. One of our little yorkies, my dad’s favorite, comes to sit calmly in my lap, offering his kind comfort. Yorkies are typically hyper, nervous dogs, but he is as still as this moment.
Time stops, and I’ll forever see 6:30 on the alarm clock in his room.
My daddy’s face is white and sticky, just like those blasted door frames. I lift up his right eyelid to see the deep blue of his eye for the last time. It is incredibly true that the eyes are the window of the soul, because his pupil is completely empty.
I jump up to grab the phone to call Granny who lives next door.
“Hey Granny, um, Daddy.”
Voice wavering, “Oh no, honey. Is he gone?”
I strain to say “yeah.”
She rushes right over, sits on the same stool I sat on as I watched my Daddy die that morning.
She cries softly, as her youngest son lays there, dead.
The next person on my list to call is my Mother. I call her house first, because I thought maybe she wasn’t at work yet.
The answering machine.
“Hey, um, daddy is gone.”
I call her work number, and luckily for me she’s the one who answers.
“Hey, um, daddy.”
“Oh no, he’s gone.”
“I’m so sorry, I’m coming.”
The next on the list is the funeral home that he worked at for nearly 15 years. They have to come and take his body.
While we wait, I call my best friend, whose heart broke just like mine.
The people from the funeral home come in, and my dad’s best friend from work, cradles his limp, skinny dead body, and lays it on the stretcher. I go over and grab his hands, and pray that God will give me all the talents that he had.
They take him away.
My mom, Granny, and I stand in my yard talking about stuff that I’ll never remember when my cheerleading coach spots us. She immediately pulls into my driveway because she knows.
Mom takes me up to her work, and we see one of her regulars. She works at a restaurant, the one I have grown up in. She tells him that my Daddy just died a couple of hours ago.
He looks at me surprised that I’m calm while I accept his condolences.
Later that day, we go and clean out my Mom’s car, which is typically a bit messy.
I tell her I want to stay the night at Daddy’s house. It is the last night that stay there. The last time I will ever hear that glossy white door frame loudly herald the arrival of morning.
Sitting on my bed, I grab an 8×10, framed photo of my Daddy. I squeeze so tight that there are imprints on my biceps from the edges of the frame.
All of the events of the day crash down on me at once. I’m not one to cry in front of anyone, so I muffle my sobs so no one in the house hears me as I tell him that I wish I could rub his back once more, and that he was the best daddy in the world.
The next morning was, the glossy white door rumbles as my door is flung open. It is time to go to the funeral home to write the obituary, plan the funeral, and pick out an urn.
My daddy’s fellow co-workers struggled as they aid us in planning his funeral. I just want it to be over with. They sit a box of tissues next me as if I’ll need them.
I do not.
They ask which songs we want, and I request the hymn; It is Well, because my Daddy had told me as much three days ago. We had some conversations where he was doubting his faith towards the end.
He pulled Mom and me over to his side on Thursday, asked us to pray for him, and what came out was Psalm 23.
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
He grinned, and told us that all was well with his soul. He found the peace that he needed.
They ask when we want the memorial service, and I quickly chime in: “tomorrow.”
I need it to be over as soon as possible so I can move on.
The day of his funeral is here, and we go into to see his body one last time. His bald head was ice, and his beautiful finger nails, purple; which
is was his favorite color.
My sweet, younger cousin grabs me as she’s crying and tells me how sorry she is.
I comfort her.
Waiting around for the funeral to start, I go over to look at the memorial programs. Something about them pisses me off. I walk up to my Mom who is talking to my aunt, and I throw the program at her.
“This looks so stupid. We should trash them.”
Immediately she grabs my arm, and furiously leads me outside.
I’m certain that she’s either going to spank my adult sized body or harangue me for being disrespectful.
Instead, she holds my arm tightly as we take a turn around the parking lot.
I’m not a touchy-feely kind of person, so I struggle to allow her to hold my arm so closely. I think she’s trying to calm me down, but it’s so hot outside, that I just want to go back inside.
My dad had bought me a beautiful, cerulean blue collared button up and a black pair of slacks that had tiny, blue pinstripes. I liked how the blue contrasted against my blonde hair, so I wore it despite it being June 10th.
Finally the funeral starts. We start walking down the aisle. I follow behind my Mom, who is holding my Granny’s arm as well as Grandpa’s. I am offered a comforting escort to which I refuse.
My Daddy’s partner had two friends comforting him as he walked down to the reserved section.
Daddy’s pastor presided over the ceremony. It is Well was played. Communion was served because it is my Daddy’s favorite sacrament. Of course we are prayed for at this time.
The wafer dissolving in my mouth, I once again struggle against having arms around me.
I do not want to be touched.
It’s over and it’s time for the “receiving of friends.”
My entire family is at the front, with me as the last person to accept condolences at the end of the line.
I smile and begrudgingly hug all of these very sweet people that I don’t really know.
They all have very kind things to say about my Daddy.
“If you ever need anything, day or night, please call us” say countless strangers.
Unfortunately they forget to give me their numbers. I vow to never say those empty words without following through.
Finally, the last person comes through. It has taken long enough. As soon as they move on, I shoot out of that chapel, talk to the three friends that went against my wishes and came to the funeral anyways, as they recap the events of the evening and talk about how much they feel bad for me.
I asked my best friend to call all of our classmates and friends and tell them not to come. They had walked with me through this entire journey, prayed with me, fasted with me. I didn’t think I could handle having them there. This is something I’ll regret one day.
My older cousin comes up, and asks if I need a ride. I gladly accept since my duty was done there. As we were going out the door, this lady I had known for many years stops me. She says: “You mourn in your own way. Do not let anyone tell you how to mourn. It’s your journey, not theirs.” This is etched in a deep pocket in my mind, and I’ll pull this out in the future as I comfort others who lose loved ones.
My cousin takes me to McDonald’s to get a large chocolate shake. I had forgotten to eat that day even though we had received an immense amount of delicious food from so many friends.
It’s over. I can breathe.
My Daddy died in the morning. His soul rising to Jesus as the sun was rising in the east.