About a year ago I read The Martian by Andy Weir which I really enjoyed a great deal. Last night I watched The Martian with Matt Damon which I liked as well. The book was better.
But that’s not what this is about.
What this is about is that a year ago I was reading this book while traveling back and forth to Texas. At that time, my dad was valiantly fighting stage 4 non small-cell lung cancer and 365 days later he’s gone.
I cannot begin to express what it feels like to not be able to call my dad everyday just to chat the way we used to. For the last months of his life he was living with me. Admittedly, there were days we drove each other nuts. But most days we sat and talked much in the same way that we talked on the phone except we were able to do it face to face. We literally would talk for hours. Those times with him have been some of the best of my life.
The house is very quiet in comparison to when he was living here. Before he moved in I lived by myself for about a dozen years. I wasn’t used to music blasting at all hours and the TV sound set at 40. I wasn’t used to hearing someone yell from another room “Suzan, come here please”. I wasn’t used to anything remotely dealing with another human since the cats frankly are not affected by my idiosyncrasies. Yet now, in the span of just four months I am having difficulty adjusting to living by myself again. Compare that to the character in The Martian, Mark Watney, who was living on Mars alone, with no one to talk to, for over a year. Compared to that, this loneliness is a cake walk.
Yet this is also very different and I am having difficulty processing it. It is really quite surreal. There are days I don’t believe it’s real. Don’t get me wrong. I’m well aware that my dad is dead. But there are days that I think that this is all a dream that I will wake up from.
Friends of mine who have also lost their parents have told me of similar feelings so I know I’m not alone in this. Each of these friends has told me that he or she has been dealing with feelings like this for years. In fact, my dad told me a few months ago how much he missed his father and my grandfather has been gone for over 40 years. That’s a long, long time missing someone. It tore at my heart to know that my 83 year old dad missed his dad.
I’m reminded of something said in The Martian in which Mark Watney said that you just keep working the problems one after the other, and if you work all the problems you get to go home (from space). I’m similarly taking this as one step at a time, one foot in front of the other.In other words, I keep working the problems; I keep living life one day at a time.
I know for a fact that’s what my dad would want me to do and so I do what I must. But I would be lying if I said that it was easy. I just hope that I will arrive someday in the future, sol 1000 or sol 2000, and find that the day went without that horrible feeling of knowing that I can never speak with my dad again.