My dad in Ponce, PR.
I never spoke at my father’s funeral nor at his burial. I was never asked. In fact, my older brother took it upon himself to speak for us, for the both of us. This was a common occurrence with both my father and my older brother. In fact, it has been common for the baby of the family to be treated as…well, the baby. This is something that usually infuriates me and like the baby I am, stomp my feet at but for once I was grateful to be under the veil of their protection, or at least of my brother’s. My father is now gone. I had no words to speak. I haven’t had the words since I got the news of his sudden passing. Call it shock or denial but I had nothing. I didn’t have many tears then either. I was surprised by the fact that I could be so strong, that I could comfort others who found the news equally unbearable. But it wasn’t really strength at all. I was just numb. The pain sat heavy on my chest and I found myself struggling to breathe most of the time. I convinced myself that the man laying there during his funeral was not my dad at all. Until I held his hand. I always held my dad’s hand, even as an adult. I know, and then I get upset when I am treated like a baby. But I was. I was his. When I landed in Puerto Rico, the island that gave me him and the place I felt was once home, despite its sunny skies and warm demeanor, felt distant and empty. There was no old man greeting us at the airport, no stories on the ride home, no laughter. But there was family. My mother joined us, we needed her there just in case we fell apart and we did fall a few times. And we had the family, familiar faces that comforted us and memories that uplifted us. But now I am home. During the hustle and bustle of our mornings, I am distracted with the duties of motherhood. Then my oldest goes to school, the boys nap, and the silence swallows me whole. That heaviness on my chest won’t seem to clear and I find myself clawing for air. The pain is not only unbearable but indescribable. In the middle of launching a new business and running this blog, I have lost all desire. I feel no motivation and the days are simply long as I struggle to get by without my children and husband being the wiser. I force myself to eat when I remember I hadn’t and as a nursing mother, I feel like I am failing my youngest. These thoughts, these feelings, I am sure are normal and that eventually I will learn how to carry on without letting the grief affect me so but for the moment, these feelings are so raw, they sting. That morning my father was to go to Home Depot to buy the floor tile for the home he had been building for us. There was a bedroom for my brother and one for me, big enough for our growing family. He decided it would be best to go that afternoon and settled in for his nap, his daily ritual. He never woke up. And now in my restlessness, I find myself browsing tirelessly online for his floor tile.
Descansa Papi. I love you.