Easy/hard - no, those aren't the categories I think with in relation to dad's departure to the gates of the netherworld.
I miss him as much today as I ever did, and I think that is normal. What comes to mind here is how often, for instance, my father-in-law mentions his parents. They have been dead for years and years. It doesn't change.
But neither is the sense of loss debilitating. Frankly, there's something ennobling about knowing you miss your father, you can miss your father. Some people's fathers were/are monsters. My father was a wonderful, but - like most of us - flawed man. Of course, I'm not going to say he was just like the rest of us. He was the best dad; he was my dad.
Every day as I come to know myself more and more, and as I do I gain insight into him as well, even though I will never see him again on this end of things.
But, most of all, I feel like I want to talk to him. But there is something illogical in all of this. It is based upon the notion that things can stay still, remain like the photograph one has in one's memory of things. I am twenty, he is fifty-six, with him my memory will never be otherwise. I still have so much to learn from him. I forgot to ask so many things.
About a week ago I was reading some poems of Byron. Here is a bit from his poem, And Thou Art Dead, As Young and Fair:
I know not if I could have borne
To see thy beauties fade;
that follow'd such a morn
Had worn a deeper shade:
Thy day without a
cloud hath pass'd,
And thou wert lovely to the last,
As stars that shoot along the sky
Shine brightest as they fall
As once I wept, if I could weep,
My tears might well be shed,
think I was not near to keep
One vigil o'er thy bed;
To gaze, how
fondly! on thy face,
To fold thee in a faint embrace,
And show that love, however vain,
Nor thou nor I can feel
My father died in something close to the height of his mental powers, save for the fog of his painkillers. But he did not decline into dementia, as had my grandmother. So, there is solace in that. Yet, for me, the painful line is:
To think I was not near to keep
One vigil o'er thy bed;
If I haven't said it before, I was, I feel, robbed of the one hard consolation that was granted everyone but me, my mother and both my brothers. I had come to visit to see him, surely, I thought, safely early enough, to see him once again before he died, but I was in a way too late. I arrived at night while he was sleeping his last sleep. I told my mother not to wake him, that I would see him in the morning. He never woke up. And if I could not have, like the rest of the family, especially my mother, been worn down by caring for him in his last days and weeks, neither can I now draw on a memory of having served him lovingly to his end. I am haunted by these lines of Byron.
We haven't forgotten you, dad.