I thought going back to work would be difficult, having to take care of other people's fathers, but it's been a welcome diversion. It's the only time other than when I'm sleeping when my dad doesn't cross my mind.
But then I get home and the loss hits me all over again. I miss him so much. I miss his voice and his positive attitude. If I allow myself to ruminate on the years he lived with us I miss seeing him oh-so-carefully walking down the assistive steps to the BBQ even though when he BBQ'd, which he loved to do, it was more work for me. He was out at the grill 8 weeks after a heart attack! The man was a horse!
Every night I tell him out loud how much I miss him and I pray that I/we did right by him towards the end. I don't really have any guilt or regrets but I replay his last 4 days in my mind. He went through such hell and I was a whirling dervish, constantly on the phone with hospice or the NH, trying to ensure he was getting the care he needed.
Because he was an agnostic I wonder where his spirit is. This crosses my mind every night. He was the best man I knew and he deserves to be in Heaven but he didn't believe in that stuff. So I wonder. Can he hear me? Does he know how much I miss him and what a void his death left me with? The void. I didn't anticipate it being quite as big but it's a hole I can feel in my chest and it hurts.
Last night I had the craziest thought. Toward the end of his life I would call the NH every night to see how he did after I left and last night I thought, "I need to call and check on dad." It was such a brief thought that took me totally by surprise.
He loved living with us. Loved the house. Loved his room and his place at the island. Loved being with us. And while being a 24/7 caregiver was so difficult he wasn't difficult at all. HE was easier to live with than I was! I read so many horror stories here about an elderly parent being abusive or narcissistic or difficult. My dad was none of these things. He was jolly and happy and sweet. Even his last conscious day, he clung to me as a child would cling to its mother. He was so scared of the hallucinations and didn't trust anyone but me. It's this memory that's the freshest. I try to remember other things about him but I still see him 4 days before he died, so sick and out of his mind from the encephalopathy.
I have faith that in time the pain will lessen. It has to. It's only been a month. But I miss him more than I thought was possible.