Wait! I’m not ready. I’m not ready for you to go. Its not your time. It cant be. You have too much left to do. You have too much left to say. There are too many words left unspoken. There are still things I want to learn from you. Things I want you to teach me. I’m sure that there is advice I don’t even know that I need from you yet. I can feel your aura shining bright. I feel an incredible sense of overwhelming warmth. Its love. I feel so much love.
Did you have to make a decision? Did you have to decide whether to go forward into a light so bright that you couldn’t see what was beyond it? Did you have the option to turn back? Where you scared? Was there fear?
I see something standing in the doorway. Someone is holding the door open. At first it just looks like a ball of light. As I look closer and begin to focus on it, a being starts to form. Its him! Its my dad! I see my dad! I am overjoyed. How can this be?
Its been 14 years. He doesn’t look like he has aged a bit. He looks so much better than when he did when I saw his lifeless body after that destructive night. It has been 14 years since mother nature took her wrath out on him. He wasn’t sick. There is no reason that he shouldn’t still be here. But he isn’t. He isn’t here. At least not physically. There were so many things left undone. So many things left unsaid. But it was too late. He was gone. I carry the burden.
I wasn’t ready. Hell, I’m still not ready. I think some part of his soul knew. I’m pretty sure that he had, in a way, even tried to prepare me. I didn’t understand the depth of the conversation we had that day until he was gone.
In March of 2003, my grandfather, my dads dad, was dying. I called him Zadie. I was his oldest grandchild. We had a very special relationship. He always referred to me as “his number one”. We had a close relationship, so it was no surprise that I was having a hard time accepting his fate. My father found me in the family room crying. What took place next is permanently etched in my mind like my dads name carved in his grave stone.
“Court…..whats wrong?” I could hear the concern in his voice.
“What’s wrong? Are you serious? I cant even believe you are asking me that question. I hate seeing him like this.” I was so angry. I was pissed. I couldn’t stand seeing Zadie in pain, yet I wasn’t ready for my him to go. I wasn’t ready to never see him or talk to him again. I was being selfish.
My dad sat down next to me and tried to comfort me. He put his arm around me. In a way I felt like I was 5 years old again. Like I had skinned my knee and my dad was telling me that I would be ok. As much as I didn’t want to admit it, it was calming and reassuring. I was still daddy’s little girl. I wept. We sat in silence. Then he said something that I have carried with me, strapped around my heart, ever since.
“Court, I want to share something with you. As you get older, you come to realize whats really important in life. You will come to realize that whats really important is the legacy that you will leave behind. I am not afraid of death. If by chance I was to die tomorrow, I would be ok with that. I would be ok with it because I know the legacy that I would leave behind. That legacy is you, your sister and your brothers.” He had tears in his milk chocolate brown eyes.
I know that I had conversations with my dad after that. But that conversation. Those words are the last ones I remember him saying to me.
My Zadie died that night with all of his family surrounding him. The room was full of love.
In the Jewish religion you mourn for thirty days. Thirty one days after my Zadie died, on April 10th it happened again. Zadie’s wife, my grandmother, my Nanny took her last breath. She gave him the last gift she could. She honored him by mourning for 30 days. I’m convinced she died of a broken heart. She couldn’t fathom living without him.
Then May 6th, 2003 and all its misery happened. Twenty six days after my Nanny died, sixty days after my Zadie, now my dad was gone too. The loss was overwhelming. It was too much for me to handle. In a matter of 60 days I lost two generations of my family. My Zadie, my Nanny and my dad were all gone. I was overcome with grief. They were gone, but I was lost. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t function.
It has taken me 14 years to get to the place I am in now. Fourteen years of loss. Fourteen years of grief. Fourteen years of heartache. Fourteen years of wondering about the conversations we never had. Fourteen years of pondering what my dad would say to me when I asked for his advice. Fourteen years of one sided conversations with him that I’m not really sure he ever heard. But his legacy, it lives on. Not only through myself and my siblings, but through the countless number of students that he taught over the span of almost 30 years.
What is that ringing? Its getting louder. Its getting clearer. My dad is starting to fade away. Wait! I’m not ready to let him go. I cant let him go again.
“I love you dad” I yell before disappears completely.
I try to resist, but I slowly open my eyes. I’m home in my bed. My alarm is going off. When I finally wake up the sun is shining in through the curtains. That bright light and warmth is still surrounding me. I feel a sense of peace. A calmness like watching a baby sleep.
I am grateful. Grateful for the 28 years that I had with him on this earth. Grateful for the things that he taught me. Grateful for the morals he instilled in me. Grateful that he was my dad. I’m also grateful for the moments I had with him in that dream. Grateful for the opportunity to show him that his legacy lives on. An opportunity to tell him one more time that I love him.
Photo credit: Eve Hannah