It has been one week now, since my father passed away, and everything feels different in the same way. Or the same in a different way. Words fail me. Am I supposed to be sadder than I am right now?
My mother says it is the little things that get her. Throughout everyday life, we can act as though everything is just fine. We have a safety net; we've braced ourselves. But if something unexpected happens, it hits like an icepick through the chest. And so I go, doing work as I always have, writing code and recompiling and debugging and listening to music on WinAMP when Surrender from Cheap Trick comes on and I am electrocuted, as I remember long trips in our Volkswagen Rabbit with that song on the cassette player. There's no way to describe the feelings other than actual, tangible waves of nostalgia and sadness washing over me. It's a cliche but it's damned accurate.
The day after he died my mom went to go get the messages off the voice mail system. She picked up the phone, absentmindedly, before I could stop her, and right there was his voice: "Good morning, you've reached the Lindsey residence. For John, press 1; Mary Jo, press 2..." That wasn't good. My wife went out and picked up a new answering machine that instant; he had taken the supervisor password for the voice mail system to his grave.
We're still sorting through the remains of my grandfather's estate, and now we have his to go through too, and it feels completely surreal. How can he just be gone? I understand the mechanics of it all in perfect clarity but the human brain just can't grasp the concept of ceasing to exist.
Enough people at the wake told me "he's in a better place" or "it was God's plan" for me to want to scream. I wish I had their faith. I did, once, but it crumbled away as I grew up and I saw all the injustice and pain in the world, and decided that if God does exist, he either doesn't care about us, is completely random in his actions, or is unable or unwilling to help anybody at all. That makes it all the more difficult.
He worked his whole life, and was just starting to get to the point at which he could enjoy the fruits of his labors. The unfairness of it all makes me want to climb a clock tower, and while he would no doubt be the first to remind me that life is not fair, as Calvin so eloquently put it, why can't it ever be unfair in our favor?
I suppose the most frightening part of all of it is this: I have come to the startling realization that, were I to suffer the same fate as he did, it would mean that my life is half over already.
I'm more scared of death than I have ever realized.