Monday, April 9, 2012

One of the Most Difficult Days in My Life

--by Mike Adams

It was spring 1979 and I, a confused, seven year old little boy, could not fully comprehend my circumstances.  I had just entered a polished and elegantly furnished room.  The finished oak, and exquisite wall patterns were complemented by flowing curtains filling the space with a sense of dignified solemnity. My Mom, Grandparents and extended family entered the room first, followed by both my sister and I. In contrast to the decorous surroundings we were a bit skittish.  I had abandoned “good behavior” and bounced chaotically about the room, periodically attempting to swing on a curtain or clamber over furniture.  

Several relatives tried to gently distract or restrain me. However, no one showed anger or frustration, the situation simply wouldn’t tolerate that.  My sister and I would soon confront a difficult and life changing experience. Thus our efforts at distraction were accepted with kindness.

My mom and Uncle spoke at length with the man in charge, after which, we moved towards the front of the room.  There, the family paused as my sister and I stepped forward and gingerly peered over the edge of a grey box, where we confronted the remains of our father, Kirby L. Adams.

He appeared to be sleeping, so I reached out to nudge his face, hoping he would wake up, smile and hug me.  When my fingers touched his cheek, I was jarred by his cold skin.  It seemed to send an electric shock racing through my arm, to my stomach, where it inspired a convulsion before continuing to the focal point of my emotional life.  There is crashed through any obstruction, releasing a flood of grief and anger, for which I was completely unprepared.  

My legs crumpled and I fell towards the ground.  My uncle raced over to lift me, at which point, I pushed free with all my might and darted into an adjoining room.  There, I collapsed into a chair, I was overwhelmed with grief, sobbing with every fiber of my being.  I cried because my Daddy was really gone, I cried because for the first time in my short life, something truly terrible had happened and I could do nothing to change it.  I cried because, despite uncountable dutiful prayers, God had turned his back on me.  I cried because there was nothing else to do.  I was filled with a limitless reservoir of pain, which would never empty.  I thought I might cry so hard that I too would die and be laid to rest with my dad, but this didn’t happen.

I have no memories from the rest of that day. The only thing I’m sure of is that I couldn’t believe he was gone.  I couldn’t accept that neither my sister nor I would ever cuddle up on his lap while he tickled us or imitated Donald Duck.  My Daddy was gone, he could no longer make me feel safe, loved or important, He was really gone.

For months, I suffered intense grief, periodically bursting into tears, while at play with my friends or watching TV.  Slowly, I adjusted to life without Dad and months passed, turning into years as grief was replaced by fond memories.  

It has been more than thirty years since those events took place and today they occasionally seem as fresh as this morning’s coffee, while on other occasions, they are more like a movie or book about some sympathetic character, whom you want to reach out and comfort.

I recently noticed that when I think about my father’s death, I usually think of myself as I am now.  Meaning, I remember those events through the filter of a grown man, with all the wisdom, knowledge and capacities that I have today.

I can’t truly remember the small child or how he felt. That young innocent and trusting soul is a stranger to me. He has become, dare I say romanticized, though a romanticized part of who I am today.

Several years back, while visiting my Dad’s grave, I watched my then seven year old step-son speed around the premesis.  He pranced about, lackadaisically hanging from trees, and intermittently chasing his little brother. I stood at my father’s grave, simply remembering. When suddenly, I realized how young I had been. I saw that little seven year old boy gallivant about the cemetery reflecting the sun's jubilance, oblivious to the significance he played in my life on that day.

For the first time in many years, I began to cry over my deceased father. Not due so much, to personal grief, but rather out of compassion for that young child, whose world had been torn asunder some twenty eight years earlier. I cried for his loss...as I watched my step-son play.

And I realized that though he was a part of who I am as a grown man, I am in no way a part of who he was. That little boy is unknown to me and I will likely never really know him.  He is gone, grown into an adult, a father and husband, transformed by life into who I am now.

43 comments:

  1. It is a part of your tapestry. Thank you for sharing it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome and thanks for stopping to read today.

      Delete
  2. I identify with this so much, Mike. I didn't realize that we were so close in age when we lost our fathers. I was eight. This is a great post. It touches my soul.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jen. I don't know exactly what came over me, but I've had this post sitting in a half finished, fully neglected state for a year now. I just read through it and completing it was easy today.

      Delete
    2. I did not know about your father...we should talk sometime about this stuff. Perhaps this is why I feel like you and I are kindred spirits. Thanks Again!

      Delete
  3. Thanks for sharing Mike. I didn't realize you had a blog. You are a great writer.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is just beautiful, Michael. I can only imagine how difficult it was to write. You have captured that difference between the child you and the you now so well. And the child you was thrust so early into growing up by such a powerful loss. Thank you for sharing this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much. I was surprised by the topic on your blog when I went to see how you would weave words into an experience today. Thanks again for your comments!

      Delete
  5. Mike, until Mimi write about it last fall, I never knew growing up that your father had died. I am sorry for your loss. I too, lost a close family member, my big brother, when I was 9, I thought I understood it then, as I chastised my younger cousin for not knowing anything. in reality, it was I who only knew my small, young little world as I have mourned the loss of my brother time and again over the years. I never really got how devastating it must have been to my parents to lose their baby until last year when my oldest son was very I'll and they couldn't find out why, when he lost weight and couldn't keep even water down, it brought a harsh reality forward. the reality of overhearing my Aunt tell mother that God only gives us what we can deal with and be stronger by. It didn't mean anything at the time, but over 18 years later, with my own son, it home hard. With my brother being gravely ill, I cannot help think, bypassing any sadness I feel at how sick he is and how awful it would be to lose him, that to lose their other son would be unbelievably devastating for a parent, any parent. I wish I could spare them this potential reality, but the ever overly practical adult in me knows very well that my brother will pass on, and most likely before either of my parents, and I only desire to protect them from that loss as much as they protected me from the loss of my oldest brother. the little kid in me sobs over ghost regularly, the adult in me knows it is part of life, the angry woman in me hates that my family has to go through this again, too soon. we live our lives in increments, only some of us ever realize just how precious our families and the time with them really , and only a fraction of them ever realize it while we still have time left with the most precious ones, our family. thanks for sharing Mike!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, thanks Kate, for your very thoughtful and personal response. I really appreciate it. I did not know about your brother when we were in HS together. It is so hard to loose someone close as a young child. Thank you again for sharing.

      Delete
    2. Mike, if you have a link to what Mimi wrote, I'd like to add it to my page, too. And I'll add the photo you sent of the fishing day somewhere, next time I come across it.

      The day of the funeral, I was 25 years old. I sang "In the Garden," because Daddy had said he wanted that sung at his funeral. I wanted Uncle John Quincy to sing it with me, but he said he was too sad to sing, so I sang it as a solo when it should have been a duet. I was in the back of the room near the organ.

      Two days ago I mentioned the burial, in a conversation here.

      I think of Daddy when I see an old pickup. We used to play a game of me trying to guess what make a pickup was (nothing newer than the 1960's, in those days) and I was right half the time, maybe, but he knew the make and the year before I could look for the clues that would help me, all of which I had learned from him.

      I've linked your blog post here:
      http://sandradodd.com/people/kirbyadams

      Delete
    3. Thanks Sandra, I'll get by the page you linked to soon. I remember at the grave side service, I was going to not cry...no matter what. I was going to be strong, comfort my Mom and Grandma Adams. The 21 gun salute forced me to cry, it shook loose my resolve.

      The other thing I clearly remember is when Nada placed a God's eye Dad's coffin? Can't remember exactly who did now.

      Thanks for adding your link and I'll ask Mimi about what she wrote. I don't think she has a blog, so I don't think it is published.

      Delete
  6. Thank you for your candor and beautiful words. I'm so sorry for your loss.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Megan. I didn't realize until today that April 22 will be the 33rd anniversary of my Dad's death, which I expect accounts for why I've been thinking about him and feeling reflective and sad recently. Thank you for your very kinds comments and for stopping by.

      Delete
  7. I see what you mean about a difficult post, Mike. I lost my dad a few years back and I am still waiting to let go of him. I couldn't at the time and now I lack the strength to revisit those last few days. I think maybe I carry him around because he is the main reason I started writing seriously. I don't want to let that piece of me or him go. Wonderful post. And many thanks for stopping by.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Brenda for sharing your experience with losing a parent. It is such a difficult thing. I love your writing and will be back to your site more.

      Delete
  8. Thank you for opening your heart to us, Mike. There are moments which shape our lives, and moments which change them forever. Yours was both...and your compassion for your younger self in that moment with your stepson is very touching.

    Take care,

    Casey

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Casey, Thanks for your very kind comments. I checked out your site and am going to link to your poem on hope here to share with anyone who happens upon my blog. I hope that is ok?!
      Thanks for stopping by.

      --by Casey:
      http://navigatingcyberloss.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/nablopomo-hope-grief-loss-recovery/

      Delete
    2. Thanks, Mike. That's really good of you.

      Best wishes,

      Casey

      Delete
  9. Such an emotional and heartfelt piece of writing. Thanks for sharing it with us, Mike.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Patrick, I've gotten such a larger response than I had anticipated. Thanks again!

      Delete
  10. Replies
    1. OH! It was just a link to a newspaper article with a commentary about the charities which provided us with Christmas gifts while Daddy was in the hospital, and Mom couldn't really afford anything for Christmas. It wasn't like a... article or story or anything.

      Delete
    2. I had no idea what it might have been and have been meaning to call and find out. Mikalh has been home sick for two days and I've been with him...also fighting something. sleeping almost all day each day, with him sleeping on my chest.

      Delete
  11. Such a sad thing to lose a parent when you're so young and still need them so much. I was fortunate that my parents lived into their mid 80s and had good, full lives. Both their deaths were expected. Of course, one is never really prepared for the death of a loved one, but it still is much easier you've had them for so many years.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is true, my wife's grandmother was 102 and it still was difficult for everyone. Christmas service is still difficult a few years later, because her favorite song was, "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear", and we always sing that song at the candle light service. Thanks Angela for your comments and for stopping by. I'd like to post a link to your post, which was very moving. I can remove if you would prefer that I not. Thanks Mike Adams

      Delete
  12. Dear, dear Mike...thank you. When one of us shares from our deepest Selves, I truly believe we all grow and expand who we are. You are an exquisite writer and I am truly touched at the courage you must have had to dig up to compose such a heartfelt piece. And thank you for being a part of my blog. Your presence both there and here....makes me happy:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Brynne. I really enjoy your blog and am glad that you appreciate what I have written here. I hope you have a smooth return to the State-side life.

      Delete
  13. very awful moment.. i know... i lost a piece of my youth when my 19 year old brother died unexpectedly... great writing.. and thanks for stopping by my site....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I really enjoyed your site! My best friend from elementary school lost his older brother. I think he and I bonded because I had lost my Dad and he his brother. Thanks for dropping in and reading and esp. commenting! :-)

      Delete
  14. I don't know that I'd ever thought about it quite this way but, you're right. The tears I still have for those young losses aren't for me, they are for the me I was then.

    Beautifully written.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jane! Sometimes I just miss my Dad...sometimes I wish he could meet my kids, see who I've become in life. Other times I'm sad for the little kid who lost his hero. My youngest is going to turn seven in a short while and he is such a little guy. It's hard to imagine him going through something like this.

      Delete
  15. Wow, how did I miss this one? It's just wonderful.

    I wrote about my mom's death here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your very kind comments! And I loved your post about your mom.

      Delete
  16. Beautiful post, Mike. First of all, I am very sorry about the loss of your father at such a young age. I could fully appreciate how you cried again at your father's grave as you took in the sight of you 7 yr, old step-son. That was you then and you grieved for him as an adult. Take care.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, how did I miss this comment! Sorry for my very delayed response! Thank you beachlover! I really appreciate all of your comments!

      Delete
  17. You have touched a complete stranger today, Michael. Thank you, good sir.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Anonymous I appreciate knowing that!

      Delete
  18. This is crushing but also full of a hopefulness. I can't imagine losing a parent as a child, let alone now, at almost 50 as I face losing my mother – I feel like a child about to be abandoned. My cousin lost her mother when she was 14 and I remember it was a good 15 years later at least, when we met for lunch and she said she finally was beginning to feel as if she was getting over it. Able to move on. She seemed lighter perhaps. Thank you for leaving the link to this post on my own. For some reason you wound up in my spam but I will set you free from it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Sandra, I really like your blog and regularly read it. I don't always comment, because I'm not always sure what to say, but I appreciate your writing and your very kind comments here today!

      Delete

Thanks for your comments! :-)
My wife says comments save fairies. I mostly just want to know that the traffic hits I get on my statistics aren't Russian Spam-Bots!