How can it be that nearly two weeks have passed and yet I feel frozen in place--stuck.  I am mired down in unexpressed grief and denial. 
I lie to myself. You are not gone. You are simply delayed with your buddies, probably having a bagel and sharing laughs and lost track of time. You will be at home when I call to see how you are feeling today.

But I cannot remove the pain of the truth from my heart.
I cannot erase my last visions of you.  The first, you are laying so still in a hospital bed, except for your breathing, labored and thick. I cannot forget the sight of the rise and fall of your chest as you struggled to stay with us. I believed you’d triumph.  In my life, you were always invincible. 

Then, I blink the tears back and try to clear my head and I see you again.  This time, I return, after the call telling me you are gone. The lights in the room are now dimmed, your face is grey but your legs are still warm to my touch.  The nurse explains, that the soft intermittent rise and fall of your chest, that I think I see, is now only a cruel trick of my mind.  

I am crying, but I suck back gut wrenching wails and feel them catch hard in my throat. For a moment, I feel suffocated and I gasp thin breaths of stale air, looking for an escape from it all, but I am unable to move.  Part of me wants to run but I know that will not change the way I feel and it will not bring you back. So I wait--snared between denial and reality.
Every moment in the short span of time since then, feels the same. I allow myself to release stifled sobs, and tears roll down my face freely, but the cascade of unabashed grief remains carefully imprisoned inside my chest. 

My mourning time is spent alone, inside my car cloaked in the predawn darkness during my early morning commute. My sorrow song is muted by the music on the radio.  My ritual ends as I exit the freeway and harness my grief once more.  I wipe my eyes and put on my mask for the day.
Despite my memories of your flag draped casket and internment, I cannot find my closure.  Your memorial service looms ahead of me and I anticipate more helpings of pain while I have not yet embraced the pain served up and stored away. 

I need you to help me be strong and yet you are no longer here to do that.  You taught me to be independent and tough, but where is that trait in me, now?  I feel weak and small, and vulnerable to being trampled by the world around me. 

I know it is still there, somewhere deep inside of me but for now, it is covered beneath the pain of the loss of you, my father and hero. 

I will emerge strong again on the other side of this loss, because I am my father's daughter. 

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