Monday, August 02, 2010

Kitchen Window

I spent many hours of my life watching the world through this window. It's the window over the kitchen sink at my parents' house. I watched for my Dad to get home from work when I was a child. I watched for friends to come visit. I waited for the bus. When someone rang the doorbell, we peeked out the window to see who was there. I anxiously waited for dates to arrive. We watched for the mail man when a package was expected. And so forth. I suspect my Mom spent many hours watching and waiting for me out of this window as well.

This day was no different. We were huddled in the kitchen, watching and waiting. Many tears had been shed. The hospice nurses had come and gone after making their phone calls and filling out paperwork. My aunt and cousins had left. It was just us - my Dad, Clint, the kids, and myself. We were in the kitchen just feeling overwhelmed when we saw the glint of sunshine off the long, shiny, black car that slowly pulled into the driveway. "There they are," we said.

The hearse.

It's been two years since we ushered the girls outside to play on the rusted swing set in the sweltering August heat. They didn't complain though because like most kids, I don't think they noticed how smothering hot it was.

Up until that moment, I never really thought about how they would come get her. It never occurred to me that a hearse would pull into the driveway, but it makes sense now.

I didn't want the kids to see the 'fancy' car and ask questions. I didn't want to see them take her away either. They didn't know yet. So we hid in the backyard and let them do their work quietly.

I made sure the driveway was empty before going back inside.

The second the hearse left, a woman who lives two houses down rang the doorbell. She just looked at the five of us in horror as she figured out who was missing. She cried over and over "I'm so sorry! I'm so sorry! We had no idea she was sick!!" Another man who lives down the street stopped to give his condolences. He had seen me in the driveway a few days earlier and asked what was going on, as he had noticed the big white hospice vans coming and going.

Part of me felt relief that it was over. There would be no nursing home after all. The days and nights of waiting and watching and not knowing were behind us now.

Yet it was just a beginning. Sleepless nights and just overwhelming grief. Sadness and always the feeling of missing someone terribly. And knowing you will never, ever see them again.

And two years have flown by. She's been gone two years today. Unreal. Even my Dad told me a few days ago it was still hard for him to believe all of that really happened. It has gotten better over time, but not exactly easier. I've adjusted, but it's always there.

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