Friday, August 13, 2010
‘A pretty good first day’
Visitation, Friday evening
Luke had just told me that he never told his mom that her husband’s long-lost daughter was coming to his funeral.
“Well, I’ll let you handle that,” I said, and he walked away to meet her.
I turned around to look at all the photos they had displayed of Dad.
I stood there looking at pictures of a doting father cradling babies that weren’t me, and a smiling grandfather playing with kids that weren’t my son.
Such a good man, everyone’s told me. Loving, caring, funny. Yes, the pictures seemed to prove as much.
“Damn it, Dad. Why couldn’t we have gotten this right?” I thought.
I turned around.
“Yes,” I answered.
“I’m Joanne, David’s wife,” she said.
“It’s nice to finally meet you,” I said. And I meant it.
“Did you come all this way just for the funeral?” she asked.
She looked stunned.
“Well, I’m glad you’re here,” she said. “He would be glad you’re here.”
About that time, my father’s wife had to turn around and talk to more well-wishers as the line started to lengthen again at the funeral visitation on this Friday evening. I quietly slipped to the side.
“Whoa, that was weird,” Luke said as he approached me.
“Why?” I asked.
“I never got to tell her you were here,” he said.
“What … how?”
“I went to talk to her, and she saw you standing there and asked, ‘Is that Misty?’” he explained. “I told her yes, and I asked her how she knew, and she said she’s seen pictures of you.”
I don’t know if she meant pictures I sent to Dad when I was little, or with the graduation invitation I never heard anything back from, or recently when he and I had become Facebook friends.
One thing was sure, though. I wouldn’t get any of those answers during this most tragic and hectic of weekends for her.
And many answers to all our questions will never be revealed, since the one we needed to talk to would be buried in less than 24 hours.
I hated that most for Charlie, my father’s brother. Of everyone, I think he was the most shocked and confused and hurt about me and my absence in his family’s life.
You see, I thought he had known about me my whole life. Come to find out, he didn’t know until recently.
“I think I’m the only one who didn’t know,” he would tell me later.
As the chapel cleared of those who knew and loved Big Dave, I made my way toward the back, where the family was gathering their things.
I gave more hugs, and we said we’d see each other in the morning.
Joanne gave me a smile, as if she just realized we never really got to finish talking earlier.
“Misty,” she said.
“Joanne, I’m so sorry for your loss. And I’m so sorry we are meeting under these circumstances,” I said.
“He would be so glad you’re here,” she told me again.
“I don’t think we’ll really have time to talk tomorrow,” I told her.
“No, I know we won’t. Don’t take that personally, but tomorrow will be rough,” she said.
“I understand. And tomorrow isn’t about me,” I said. “It’s about you and Luke, and for those of you who knew him and are hurting.”
“That’s very giving of you,” she said.
I hugged her and turned to face Luke.
“Well, it was a pretty good first day,” he said as we hugged.
Not too bad. But tomorrow will be rough.
To be continued …