Police came to our door tonight to inform my daughter that her father, who resided in AZ, is dead. Found in his apartment, no evidence of foul play, and that's all we know until they determine cause of death. He was 55. So many questions about why he left this life so early. Such a horrible shock.
Nearly 30 years ago, I lost 3 people in my life, 3 years in a row. My mother, my father and then my sister. I know death. My daughter, who is 20, does not.
Death brings, amidst the tears and sorrow, the work of the "next of kin". And so it begins. The phone calls to his relatives, the most painful of which will be his father, who must be close to 90. No parent should ever survive their child, and he's already seen one son die. In a few hours I will have to tell him another of his sons is gone.
Still amidst the tears and sorrow, decisions about funeral homes and cremation and a service need be made.
Then the trip to AZ, because we are the logical choice to take care of things; his child and the mother of his child.
The tears will likely continue during the cleaning out of his apartment, which basically amounts to sorting through and examining the parts of his private life, perhaps discovering more about a man who neither one of us was very close to. Deciding when to keep, what to get rid of, where to get rid of it.
So many tedious details. Ending the lease on his apartment, canceling the credit cards, closing the bank accounts, shutting off the utilities. Telling Netflix he doesn't need those movies anymore. Calling everyone in his phone contact list. Tying up the details of a life lived, turning it into a life lived no longer. The time that it takes to handle the details allows the tears and the grief their time, too.
We met in a country western dance bar. He danced me around the floor like no one ever had, like we'd been dancing for years. He talked me through the steps with a deep, sexy voice. Dancing became our passion, and the thing we did best together. Ours was a turbulent and stormy relationship for so many reasons that aren't important now. Despite the precarious nature of our connection, apparently my daughter had plans to join us in this life....a brave choice.
He left before she was born and saw her 1 or 2 times a year for the rest of his life. I never burned that bridge and have been thankful many times for that decision. Sometimes it required a lot of work, but it got easier as the years passed. We just saw him last week. He was coming through on business and he stopped by to take her to lunch. I've always wished for him that he could just be happy. With medication, he did seem to find a measure of happiness in the last decade of his life.
My best memories of him are all those nights of exquisite dancing. He twirled and guided me around the floor so skillfully that I could close my eyes, relax, and just follow his lead. The pleasure of good partner dancing is hard to match; there's nothing like it. I missed it when we separated. I still miss it. It was magical. Floating across the floor in his arms, we shared an ease and flow that was largely absent in the rest of our relationship. For those moments on the dance floor, it was heavenly.
What lessens my tears is thinking of him there now, doing his favorite thing, dancing with all the pretty women in heaven.