We had known he was going to die, just not the exact day. I drove the five hours home to collaborate with my husband, a graphic designer, on a piece to hand out at his memorial service. We had already picked out the date - the Saturday between Christmas and New Years. We started doing all these things even though he wasn't technically dead.
In a weird twist, when I called called my brother and got the news, I had just left a funeral. The funeral was for Michelle, a funny woman I went to college with. When Dan Dahlstrom broke up with me, she listened to me bitch and moan. We lost touch for years, but later wound up living in the same neighborhood, had kids at the same grade school. She died of some incredibly rare liver disease. By the time they diagnosed it, it was too late. I was impatient all through her funeral. It was a full-on Catholic mass. I think they mentioned her name twice. Other than that it was 90 minutes of sit, stand, kneel, repeat after the priest, watch the other people take communion, try not to think about her two kids, try not to wonder if my dad was finally dead. Michelle was 42 when she died. My dad was 80.
After I got the news, my husband went back to work after I reassured him I was okay. I had planned on going to Costco, so I went. You do things, but you are not conscious of doing them.
On the day of his funeral, my mom spent the morning with her best friend, who had slipped into a coma. My mom's friend died a day or two later. I ached so much for her.
Three years later, my mom has weathered the worst days of her life and emerged a strong, joyful woman. This morning she drove to the Oregon coast, where she planned to walk on the beach, read Cormac McCarthy's The Road, and eat Sees chocolate.
Rest in peace, Daddy.