I’m in a time warp. Everything at home is just as I left it, last Sunday’s paper mostly unread, the Sunday NYTimes Magazine still open to an article about the mid-career time out, cat toys on the coffee table. But the shriveled tomatoes and brown mangoes on the counter remind me that I’ve been gone for a week, as does the cat who won’t let me out of his sight.
When I see the souvenirs on my desk from a July trip to Japan, I expect to see dust. How could that have been just three weeks ago?
It feels as if I’ve been gone longer. I feel… different.
I didn’t expect to experience a greater sense of finality by burying Mom and Dad at Arlington last Thursday. “There’s a sense of closure,” a family member suggested before I left Washington, D.C.
No, that’s not it. Not it at all. Nothing felt unclosed.
This feels more like coming to the end of an enthralling book series that, in its coda, left me with certainty that my favorite characters could not return. There will be more books, but the plot will move on. New characters will be introduced. But the new protagonists will never quite equal that first story and I will not forget.
This feels final.
My role was final. At Washington National Cathedral yesterday, the second reading had this phrase: “…let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us…” (from Hebrews 11:29-12:2)
God knows Dad ran his race with perseverance, caring about all of us, and for us, to the end.
We persevered, too.
I finished what I promised Mom when she thought she was dying in the hospital: I took care of Dad.
I finished gathering the family for this final event.
My brothers and I finished the final task set for us: Mom and Dad’s wish to be buried next to Midge at Arlington.
We did it.