It’s worth dedicating a piece to talking about the “time between.” From that Saturday, August 25th, over the following two weeks where we held not one but two memorial services for Dad.
I think I expected those days to be really hard. Making the arrangements, having to talk to the funeral home, etc. Those seemed like tasks that were going to make this whole thing far too real and so much harder. And initially, I had been really opposed to spreading things out so much: a whole week before our memorial in Idaho and waiting another full week before the one in Texas. But actually, the feelings we had from our time together at the house on Saturday carried through the rest of those weeks.
Sunday, we made no plans. We had no visitors or calls. Meredith, Ben’s partner, headed back to Eugene, Oregon, and Ben met some friends for indoor soccer. Mom and I stayed home.
Before Ben departed for his games, we talked as a family about the memorial we’d like to host for Dad. When you see a death coming, it’s inevitable that conversations will arise about what will happen next. At least, it was for us. The three of us, Ben, Mom and I, had already touched on some ideas we each had for the memorial, among other things, in the time leading up to Dad’s passing. So we already had an idea, but took some time to talk specifics. We made a general game plan to make it all happen and that was it. Ben left and Mom and I watched a movie. We truly did take each moment, each hour, one at a time. If it sounded good, we did it. If not, we didn’t. Looking back I realize now what a true luxury that was.
Mom and Ben had taken leave from work, and being my own boss I granted some to myself too. That allowed us to dedicate a full week into planning and executing our Celebration BBQ. And that, in and of itself, provided healing.
We didn’t have to rush. We were able to take the time to really make it into something cool, without feeling overwhelmed like there was too much to do and not enough time to get it done. We had so many amazing people around us helping put it all together. We just go to BE. In whatever state we were in that day, we just were. We planned the crap out of the week, utilizing a white board to track our progress and stay clear on what still needed to be done. And we went on spur of the moment shopping trips and got our nails done (Mom and I, that is).
This time between was a gift. We were able to pour ourselves into creating something for Dad, which made it feel like he was right there alongside us. Each day, a part of me expected him to just walk through the door, thrilled about what we were planning. It wasn’t long into the week that we found ourselves saying that this was an event he would have loved to attend himself. And I could not think of a better testament to just how perfect the event celebrating his life turned into.