Dear Dad – Your Body at Rest

My father in high school, Ames, Iowa

Dear Dad,

I can’t help but think of your body at this moment, Dad. It is nighttime in New Jersey. The visiting hours at the funeral home are over.

In Sydney, Australia, I sit and think of you, and I picture your body lying at rest. I would have thought of it no matter what, but especially because I know your casket was open for the viewing, I’ve thought about your body even more.

I imagine the room at the funeral home is darkened and quiet now, and may have been locked for the night. I would think the funeral director or one of his staff would have closed the coffin overnight, and I wonder when they will open it again tomorrow for your funeral.

Dad, if I were there with you physically, I might have wanted to stay in that room overnight, to sit by your body during its final hours in that form. My tall and handsome Dad, I was always proud you were my father; proud to be seen with you; proud when you attended Rob’s and my school concerts and graduations, when you won cases in court and your name was in the headlines as the County Prosecutor, and when you walked me down the aisle on my wedding day.

My father being sworn-in as County Prosecutor

Dad, you knew better than anyone — you told me so more than once — that some of your choices, especially those related to your devastating alcohol and nicotine addictions, damaged your body. You defied the odds for so long, Dad, with your activities and your lifestyle, but in the end, your body and I believe your spirit finally let go.

My father in college, Ann Arbor, Michigan

I’ve seen dead bodies ‘prepared for viewing’ before, as you know, Dad. You were there for the days and events surrounding the deaths of my grandparents, then Rob and Uncle Ted. You stood before their open caskets and paid your last respects to those family members.

Now, the next generation, my son and your grandson, will do the same for you when he stands before your casket and your body. He was with me and my stepson when his father, Gary, died. We sat with Gary’s body until we were ready to say our final good-byes. We chose not to have a viewing, though, so we didn’t see Gary’s body again, after we left the hospital room.

Dad, I don’t envy your wife her final moments with your body, when they close the casket for the last time and take it away for the cremation. I’m not sure I can articulate what I believe, but part of my faith is based on my conviction that the body is no more and no less than a precious physical vessel, not the entirety of a person’s soul, or being.

My father, official Prosecutor photo

So Dad, today I think of you, and your body. I have no doubt it is dressed in one of your best suits, and I am thankful it is finally at peace.

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4 Responses

  1. Nicely written Carol, I hope it gives you peace. I have not yet lost a parent, but know it will happen in the not to distant future. It is the process of life and death. A very normal thing but it seems to be sooo emotional, the coming in and the going out of this life. Memories are what we are left with, some good, some not so good, but that is what makes us human. I wish you peace and the love of family around you to help you during this “time”.
    Your friend Kathy Stock

  2. Hi Kathy and thanks so much for your wonderful thoughts.

    You’re so right about the process of life and death. My best to you and your parents, and I hope to catch up with you in person one of these days.

    Take care and thanks again.

  3. Hi Carolyn,

    I have been there at different ages of my life. Each time marks you differently. But, what we have in common is to all lose someone who is irreplaceable and trying to cope with that “hole”.
    When I lost my own Dad, I thought of myself as having been truly adult for the first time.To have cared for, nurtured and comfoted him,taken decisions for him and yes, looked ahead for the inevitable truth.

    It will be the hole that you must tend to. Fill it with love and good memories, and only the good.

    xoxo

  4. Barbara, thanks for your caring and insightful words. I remember a photo and post you did about your own dad and I know while all grief is different that you have been through a somewhat similar experience.

    Our father’s deaths do indeed leave a hole. I love your advice to ‘fill it with love and good memories, and only the good’ – those are wise words and ones i will try to remember.

    Thank you, my friend and take care.

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