There is nothing like bringing a parent home, both in the literal and figurative sense. I have done both. And there are few times as quite as heart breaking.
I knew today was going to be hard, but I had no idea just how hard hard could be. Until last night, I had not been in his room since he passed, except a few minutes to get a picture for his service. When I went in, everything was still in place. His clothes. His toothbrush. His desk, his TV. The sheets and pillow that he laid on when he passed even.
And the room still smelled like him. That is what hit me the hardest. As soon as I walked in, I started sobbing. I am 44 years old, and I was on the floor sobbing, in my father’s room. It was simultaneously comforting and heartbreaking to be in his room, where he took his last breath, where I held his hand and sang to him, stroked his hair, told him it was OK to be with Mom, if he was tired I understood.
After sobbing I got up and packed his things in boxes. No matter the label as there is now no hurry to unpack.
Today was the day the movers brought Dad’s things back home from the assisted living facility. All of his clothes, this computer, his glasses, his towels, his sheets, his socks. his dresser and nightstand, his desk…all were packed up and loaded into the truck. Then unloaded back into his room here at the house where his lived with me after Mom died.
There is nothing that prepares you for bringing a parent home in this circumstance – taking their things from the assisted living back to the house. It was harder than the day before. Seeing everything of his, of where he was, loaded up and moved out. The movers worked so fast, and in no time at all, the room was bare and empty. And that was the hardest moment.
While he was only there for 3 weeks, it is still the last place I saw him alive. His room was the last place I talked to him, laughed with him, ate with him, spent any time with him. It is the last place I saw him breathing, the last place I heard his wonderful voice, or held his wonderful hands.
And so to see that empty space, where my father was, is beyond my vocabulary to describe. It broke my heart.
And so his things were unloaded at the house, and I sat on his couch and cried.
I talked to several friends who have done the same things, and they talked about how devastating is was for them too.
When you have a parent die, it’s like you become part of a very sad exclusive club. And only those who have had a loved one pass will talk to you about it- no one talks to you about these things until you are a “member.” It is kind of like Fight Club, except even more exclusive. And then you find out that you have been living side by side with other members for years. Yes, you may know that a friend lost their parent, but you don’t really know until you too are a member. Then the information and conversations you are privy to are both poignant and consoling.
And so it is, as I go forth, a full member now. And those who have brought their parents home will understand.