Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Long Island

It's Wednesday morning. I flew to Long Island on Monday -blissfully alone- and watched as the shoreline came into view from the plane. Empty ocean beaches slid underneath me as we passed across the island. And then the north shore was up ahead. It's a long, skinny island. It amused me to look back at the ocean and then straight ahead at the Long Island Sound. Home.

My sister met me at baggage claim, we bundled up and headed out to the car. Expecting a blast of cold, I was surprised by the dark calm. Not too bad. The parking lot was dotted with piles of snow which had been plowed out of the way. We drove to our older sister's house and enjoyed dinner with her family. My Mom is currently at my house and she left her car at my sister's, so after our goodnights I drove myself to Mom's empty house.

When my parents retired, they sold my childhood home in Commack (about the middle of the island) and moved out east among the potato farms and windy, shaded roads. Dad died about 5 years ago and it was this new house we all returned to after his funeral. Monday night as I pushed the door open, I remembered how empty the house felt that first time Mom and I walked in after leaving the hospital the day he stopped breathing.

I was up from Texas to offer support during Dad's surgery. He had been in and out of hospitals and physical rehab facilities and had developed a staph infection. A specialist was going in to remove an infection on his heart. (That doesn't sound right, but that's what I remember). But a couple of days before, his doctor told us Dad wasn't strong enough to survive the surgery. Suddenly, he was dying.

And so we all sat with him, my three sisters and my Mom, as his favorite music played, sharing our favorite stories. All of his girls were with him. On the second day, a nurse came in to bathe him, so we all left to have some coffee in the cafeteria. We barely sat down when we heard an announcement, calling my Mom back to his room.

I'll never forget the rush back, walking in pairs, arm in arm, our heels clicking down the hallway, knowing what we would find. He was gone. Mom threw herself on him and said, "I'll miss you so much!"

When I sat down to write just now, I had no intention of writing about Dad's death, but that was the last time I was here without my husband and sons. The house is eerily quiet once again. But it's a healing kind of quiet. Surrounded by familiar things -some from my childhood- and family photos, the quiet is a comfort, a gentle reminder of the firm foundation my life stands upon.

Today is Wednesday morning and I'm getting ready to go into the city with all of my sisters and two of my nieces. We're going to see "The Lion King" on Broadway. I can shrug off the mantle of mother and wife and be "Little Caryl" once again, the girl who got everybody into trouble in church for giggling, the one who cartwheeled through life without a care.


Lubiana said...

Thank you for sharing these thoughts with us. You are a gifted writer. I hope you find some peace and enjoyment.

Kenzie said...

Have fun at Lion King!! I'm so jealous of your vacation right now!!! Lion King and Taylor Hicks... two of my favorite things, lol.


JOJOSIE said...

Altho I don't know you except for your blog, I figured you'd be posting soon as you have to do what all writers do, write. It's your nature and we are really glad about that. You always provide a good read.

caryl said...

You're all so nice! Thank you.

Sunny said...

How sad about your father's death. I worry about my Dad from time to time. He's very special to me and I'm not sure how it will be one day to be without him.

Have a nice time in the city, blog about your experiences and remember we will all be there in spirit. lol

jerseyirish said...

Caryl, Just stopped by didn't think you'd have anything up while you were away. Thanks for sharing your Dad's story. Have a great time!!

Sunny, I know the feeling of my Dad just not being there anymore, its a tough one.