Daughter No More

My father died this morning a little before four. One of my brothers was here, and he kept vigil while I took a nap, and that is when father chose to die. Oddly, it didn’t bother me not being there at the moment of his death. I was holding him during his last bit of consciousness, felt his acceptance. After all his time of not wanting to die, suddenly, he was ready. And so he did what he always did when his course was set — just forged ahead. Things happened so fast (things like arranging for a hospital bed), and he changed so rapidly, it felt like weeks passed but was less than seventy-two hours from the beginning of his steep decline to the end.

It took even less time to remove all signs of death — his body, his pills, his equipment. My brother and other siblings are notifying relatives and working to arrange the funeral, so after all these years, I’m left with nothing to do for my father. My mother died almost seven years ago, so now I am a daughter no more. The price of daughterhood has been paid in full, and I am free. But free to do what? I still don’t know.

The house won’t be sold immediately, of course, and my siblings have agreed to let me stay here at least another month or two, which is only fair considering how much worry I saved them. But after that? I’ll just wait, see what happens. I still have to go through my stuff and get rid of what I can since it will all be going into storage until I decide to settle down somewhere.

But all that is in the near future. I’m still just trying to get through this day, and then each of the coming days. For all of you who have followed my grief journey and so might be expecting me to descend into sorrowful depths again, don’t worry. That sort of shattering turned-inside-out grief only happened to me when I lost my soul mate, and I don’t have that sort of all-consuming pain today, only a strange emptiness. My father lived a long, happy, healthy, charmed life, so there is not a lot of tragedy attached to his passing. Once again, though, my life will be changing drastically due to a death, and that brings its own sort of grief, though this time it might also bring an exhilarating sense of possibility.

Thank you for all your concern and support. As always, you have helped me through a trying time.

Here’s wishing for better days for all of us.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

52 Responses to “Daughter No More”

  1. kcoffman Says:

    Ah, Pat, dammit. I can only say that if I’m ever face to face with our creator, I have some angry words for him. 2012 was a tough year for transitions for us and here we are, on the front line without a generational buffer. Hang in there and take no day of walking the face of the Earth for granted. Judy and I are thinking of you and hoping there are pleasant sunrises coming soon for you.

  2. Patty Andersen Says:

    Pat, so sorry for the loss of your father. I know your grief is not as deep as for your soul mate, but there is still a transition going on and I hope you have a safe journey through this most recent loss.

    Patty

  3. rami ungar the writer Says:

    My condolences on your loss, Pat. If you need anything, please let me know.

  4. Malcolm R. Campbell Says:

    Tough business, standing vigil all this time. Takes stamina, courage, love and patience. What else it takes, i don’t know. But you had the right combination of what it took and never faltered in spite of doubts. I’m sorry to hear the news, but not surprised. I hope some kind of peace or closure ultimately comes out of this.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Thank you, Malcolm. I love seeing myself through your eyes. I do hope I am all those things. And I’m sure peace will come from this — it’s been a long journey of redemption.

  5. Constance Koch Says:

    Pat, I knew before I checked your blog. Sorry to hear about your Father. May you find “Peace” now. I did. I miss him and there is an emptiness sometimes.

  6. LordBeariOfBow Says:

    I’ve been following your posts regarding your dad, I haven’t been commenting reasonong that any comments I’d make wouldn’t be fitting with what you were facing and going through. But reading this final chapter of your dads long life I felt sad and strangely shed more than a tear or two for someone I felt I knew through your messages. You have shown great love and dedication and you are the better for it. My condolences upon the death of your dear old dad.

  7. Joylene Says:

    I’m very sorry for your loss, Pat. Very sorry.

  8. Wanda Says:

    Pat, you were a good daughter to your, at times, difficult father. Whether he expressed it or not, I chose to believe he was grateful for your presence in his last weeks. I never really know what to say to those who’ve lost a family member to death. I know it comes to us all but for some there is horrendous grief and for others there is a silent sigh of relief that they are done suffering while we still grieve and for others still, it’s like they left no ripple as they left life.

    Your life will begin anew and I believe you will go on to find joy in your days ahead. Your dancing has already brought you a depth of joy and belonging that I figure must have saved your sanity many times in the past few months.

    My heart to your heart: peace.

    wanda

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I think you’re right, Wanda. He was grateful. And don’t every worry about what to say — you have always said the perfect thing. I hope you’re right that I will go on to find joy. There shouldn’t be a lot more grief — I’ve lost most of the people I’ve been deeply connected to. Good thing I am making new friends. And you are one of them.

  9. Paula Kaye Says:

    Oh Pat I am so sorry for your loss. I am sure it won’t be the same as losing Jeff but there will be quiet painful moments. And you will always miss him. The good and the bad. For it was your connection!! God Bless you and I look forward to the next chapter of your life.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      The main problem is that every loss brings back that profound sense of loss after Jeff died. I suppose that’s one meaning of “After the first death there is no other.”

  10. katsheridan Says:

    You know my thoughts are with you. And I love the picture of your father reading your book. Know that you are in so many people’s thoughts and prayers as you go through this next transition.

  11. Cheryl Haynes Says:

    I lost both of my parents by the time I was 30. I guess that’s part of the reason I am still childish in some ways. But your father sounds like he had a beautiful passage into the next world. Who can know what to do now but to wait on the Lord.

  12. ShirleyAnnHoward Says:

    Blessings, Pat, for peace and comfort to you and your family. Documentation of your journeys have been deeply and powerfully drawn. They touch me, and that is a real tribute to you as a writer, thinker, and human being. Would love to share a cup of tea and cinnamon bun with you. You’re a model for us all to follow.

  13. Holly Says:

    Pat, I am so sorry. You are never ready for something like this. More changes. Hopefully you get to do what you want now. I’m here if you need me.

  14. beccaswope Says:

    So sorry for your loss, Pat. I lost my mom 10 years ago this past September, and my dad 9 years ago the same month. So I know that empty spot that’s in your heart right now. But you’re wrong about one thing: you will always be their daughter. That is something even death cannot take away from you. It is part of who you were, are, and will become in the future.

    Praying that your next step will be the right one for you.

  15. Coco Ihle Says:

    Pat,
    Another chapter in your life is done, and done well. As you transition to the next, you will have the knowledge that you did your utmost to see that your father had the best care you could give him and that, whether or not he knew it, he died with his dignity intact. That knowledge will help you as you move forward.

    My wish for you is that you find your sense of freedom and eagerness to do something good for you. Dancing, writing, getting involved in something that interests you, meeting new people in the process. All these will help. My only caution is not to isolate yourself. Your wonderful new life is waiting. Bless you!

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Our differences were minor, more about finding a middle ground than because of animus. I hope your wish for me comes true, because that is waht I wish, too –to find freedom and the eagerness to live to the fullest. I am lucky, at the moment, I have so many friends, I couldn’t isolate myself even if I wanted to! But yes, knowing me, that cautionary word is important.

      Thank you for all you have done for me, especially for putting the idea of dance into my head.

  16. Carol Louise Wilde (Carol Wuenschell) Says:

    I sense this is an ending that had simply reached its time. I didn’t grieve for my father when he passed away earlier this year at 93 after a final illness he was all too ready to see the end of. Of course, I wasn’t looking after him as you were with your dad. Still, it is a transition, a change. I have some regrets, mostly when I think of the things in the lives of his children and grandchildren that my father will not see. That’s not the same as grief, though. I guess I’m saying that whatever your feelings are, and turn out to be, that’s what they are – and its okay.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Definitely it had reached his time. I am sad more because of one more loss in my life than because of his death. He lived a very long time, for more than 60 years with a devoted wife, and he did everything (or almost everything) he wanted to do. He truly was blessed.

  17. Kathy Says:

    Wow! You’ve certainly had your share but maybe once you process the loss and life and all that goes with it (because no matter the circumstances, there’s always something to process), it may be an exciting time ahead for you. You’re free to make a new choice and I’m very excited for you. Hugs for what you’re going through now.

  18. leesis Says:

    ah crap Pat..that was sudden…in the scheme of things. The strings are truly cut now. I imagine emotions of emptiness, physical & psychological exhaustion and sadness.

    I have no doubt my friend that you have all the courage you need and then some for taking on the future but I highly recommend giving yourself at least four or so weeks just to be in the now, as it is. No thinking about the future (just for 4 weeks :)), perhaps some reflections about the past but mostly gentle, quiet, self nurturing in the now that allows your body/mind/heart some space to rest. Longer if necessary. Your sibs can shut up whilst you rest and then plan etc or I’ll come over and give them a serious talking too(and us aussies can be pretty blunt you know) !!!🙂

    thinking of you Pat
    love Leesa

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Way too sudden. There was really no time to process it. There is still a lot of family stuff to go through, but then I hope they leave me alone here for a month or so so I can just be in the now without having to decide what to do. I so need that! And oh, I would love for you to come give them a talking to — then we could meet!

      As always, thank you for your kindness and friendship, Leesa. —Love, Pat

  19. ~Sia McKye~ Says:

    I loved the pictures. I can only hope I’m as healthy and sassy in my 90’s. But I am so very aware of time and where I am on the path. Not enough to sit on my hands and retreat. I’m shaking my fist and moving forward. I want to see what is coming next and be open to possibilities.

    I can see where the weird feeling of no longer being a daughter. It would feel strange. I think I’m a half daughter (I’m kidding a bit here)–my mom is still alive, but the past few years I’ve been losing bits of my sisterhood with having lost 3 of my brothers. When dad died, it left a hole but I was glad he was no longer suffering, There is a sense of relief that the battle is done and on the other hand a feeling of loss and what’s next?

    Take some time to rest and get your bearings and see what life has to offer. It’s good to see that you have your eyes open and see the life before you as filled with good possibilities. That attitude will help you see them as they unfold. Hey, we’re too young for the rocking chair and not too old for fun and exciting.

    Thinking about you.

    Sia McKye Over Coffee

  20. J. Conrad Guest Says:

    It’s always tough to lose a parent. My father passed eleven months after my mother, and I, too, felt orphaned, even though I was relieved that their suffering was at an end. Like you, Pat, there was an emptiness inside me. My parents no longer needed me. I didn’t have to be someplace at a certain time, other than at work. You’ll grieve in your time and in your own way. But you’ll move on. It got a little easier for me as each day passed, but after eighteen years, I still miss them.

  21. Constance Koch Says:

    Lots of feeling here from many people, that have been through this and are with you now.

  22. Mary Says:

    I haven’t been keeping up with my emails lately and just saw the post about your father. I am so very sorry for your loss and hope that you go through this new transition in life with as little pain as possible.

  23. James Rafferty Says:

    Pat, yours was a long vigil and you did well by your father. I’m sorry for your loss, but pleased that he had that long charmed life you described. My dad passed about 15 months back, but I still get little reminders of his ways. Peace.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      My gentle reminders of his ways are in my own actions and idiosyncracies. I never thought we were alike, but after being with him so long, I could see where so many of my strange and annoying habits came from.

  24. Carol Says:

    Pat, I’m so sorry I wasn’t online to know of your father’s death when it happened. Despite knowing it wasn’t going to be long in coming, I’m sure you’re feeling the loss. Such an unsettling emptiness. We grow up expecting parents to be indestructible and I remember when I lost my parents I had a sense of suddenly being orphaned. Still, you’ve survived much in recent years and I have no doubt you’ll be able to make this adjustment, too. Wishing you comfort, and strength, and assurance, and a fresh sense of purpose in your radically changed life. I’m keeping you on my prayer list!

  25. Marny CA Says:

    Pat, my heartfelt condolences on the passing of your father. It is never easy for those who are to continue on by celebrating the lives of those who we loved.

    It is always a joy for me to know that there are fathers who truly care about their children; mine did not. He told me that my brother and I were not of importance and then pointed to his house and with his index finger in my face said “I have one child and she’s in the house!” My daughter was in the car and she is the only grandchild he ever got to see – and he didn’t even want to hold her. His wife saw to it that neither my brother or I knew our father was sick and dying, nor did she let us know when he died. I lived about 4 miles from him and passed that hospital and their house 2-3 times a week.

    Twelve years later, my mom’s passing got me to a place within to help my brother during the last 10 months of his life, which a year later got me through the next 2.5 years of the passing of my 55 years old beloved husband.

    Hold tight always to the love you and your father had for each other. it is the best seatbelt.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Oh, my. So much sorrow! I’m so sorry for all your losses. And thank you for the reminder to hold tight to my father’s love. Oddly, I didn’t think he particularly loved me, but we did find a way of living together, and now I see that as a very practical showing of love, one that we two hermits could both appreciate.


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