It was 17 days after you had passed away – just 2 weeks and 3 days since we said our final goodbye and sat with you bedside for the last time before they came and took you away. In that 17 days we had planned a funeral, held a visitation, buried you, hosted a lunch at our home in Cincinnati with a saxophone player you would have loved, planned a vacation, and made our way to Florida for some much needed time away.
My week in Florida was good…I had smooth flights, we did some dinners out to eat, some swimming in the pool, shopping, and went to the ocean off and on during the days when it wasn’t raining. On my final night in Florida, Friday the 23rd, the weather just seemed to cooperate and it had been gorgeously sunny all day. I sat on the beach with a Corona, did a workout alone, and came back to meet my mom for dinner by the pool. After dinner I decided I wanted to go on the beach for my last night – for it was really the only day that week we could see the sunset. The other days had been consumed with rain as a hurricane moved it’s way through the gulf. I took myself out to the beach, and as I walked onto the sand, I started getting an overwhelming feeling of sadness. I laid my towel out on the sand, and just sat with my arms around my knees for a while. It was the kind of Summer night where you could be comfortable in a light jacket, or comfortable running around in a swimsuit – I’m unable to accurately explain the perfect temperature of that night in the words that it deserves. The humidity from the week had suddenly lifted and the breeze was lightly blowing as the ocean waves rolled in. Families all around me enjoying the sand, the water, and each other’s company as the sun set to the right of me, covered the beach. The sky was hazy and the perfect amount of clouds lined the edge of the ocean. Live music was playing up by the pool and you could hear it out onto the beach as the sun got lower and glistened over the water. For the first time since you’d been gone, I felt alone, no longer swept up in the plans of how we’d lay you to rest or planning this glorious week “away” from it all.
Why weren’t you there? You used to make my sisters and I get up at the crack of dawn to find the sunrise (I always passed on that) or make us drive to the perfect place on the island after dinner just to catch a small glimpse of the setting sun on our beach vacations. No way would there be this type of weather, this type of sunset and you not there walking the beach to enjoy it. I got that panicked feeling where you keep waiting for something to happen, for someone to come … it never does and they never appear. You keep waiting and hoping, knowing that it’s not happening but that there could be a small chance. Finally I came back up to our room…my phone was dead and I needed to capture this sunset, this view in front of me that you weren’t able to see from my point of view on earth. Mom reminded me that it was okay to feel sad and so I allowed 17 days worth of tears to come out in one night. I didn’t expect this, as we had already spent so many weeks and months grieving prior to the actual day that my Dad had died. I stood on our beachfront balcony for hours and engrained this moment and picture into my mind. As it got darker, I decided to pull out my computer and get my thoughts out in writing before they escaped me forever.
How is it that just 1 year ago (to the week) you were with us on the beach – talking, laughing, swimming. Your incredibly tan toes walking the beach with us as you snapped photos, held your grandson, and gathered the family for what would be our last vacation photo as a family – and our last vacation as a family.
It’s crossed my mind often how much I’ll miss you on my wedding day in just 4 short months, at the hospital after the birth of my other children, or at our first family Hanukkah without you. It turns out when someone is gone, you can never get “away” – for they are always with you…in the big moments, the mundane moments, and ordinary moments such as a sunset on an otherwise ordinary evening or a neighborhood concert on a hot July night.
I have a feeling I will find you in these type of moments more often than not – the ones where I least expect it, the beautiful moments that scream, “you should be here.”
It took me 17 days to realize that you are never physically coming back, but that you will never truly be gone.