Some Hard Decisions

Our family has decided that my sister and I should be the ones to make the decisions regarding memorial services and what to do with my father’s possessions.

I’ve never had to deal with anything like this before. There have been deaths in the family in recent years, my paternal great-grandmother and grandmother, and my maternal grandfather. But in those cases, they passed due to natural causes, and there was time to make peace, and say goodbye. And someone else had to make the hard decisions.

This is totally different. I did not get a chance to say goodbye. As hard as it was for me to see my grandmother lose her final battle with cancer, I at least got to hold her hand and tell her that I loved her. I’m never going to be able to do that with my father. I will eventually find a way to say goodbye, but I’m afraid that when I do, it’s going to be empty; there isn’t going to be the same feeling of completeness, or of resolution.

There are things that I wish I still had the opportunity to say to him, things that I wish I still had the opportunity to take back. I won’t be able to hug him ever again. I won’t be able to hear him say he’s proud of the man I’ve become ever again. I wont be able to call him someday to let him know he’s going to be a grandfather.

And it all changed so suddenly. So violently. He didn’t die because of a disease, or of old age. It wasn’t even an accident. Someone took his life. Someone stabbed him and left him on the side of the road over a few hundred dollars. I think that is what I’m having the hardest time dealing with right now.

I feel at a loss as to what to do. At a loss as to what to say to everyone who has called me in the last couple of days to offer their condolences and find out how I’m doing. I don’t have a good answer for them. I’m upset. I’m angry. I’m hurt. I don’t know how to articulate the thousands of thoughts, feelings, and memories that have been running through my head since I got the news that my father was killed. How do I explain to someone how it feels to suddenly be reminded of how much I loved my father, despite his imperfections, and to know that I’ll never be able to see him again? “I’m doing okay, considering the circumstances” doesn’t seem to cut it.

We’ve made one decision so far, but it was the easiest, and the most time sensitive. My father wanted to be cremated. My sister and I have told our aunt, (who lives in Fairbanks,) that we want to honor that wish. When the authorities are done with their investigation, she will inform them of our decision.

My sister is flying back from Chicago next week and we will be going to Redding to be with family and to try to make some more of the hard decisions.

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Robert Belknap has been writing online sporadically since 2001. See the colophon for more details.

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