It Really is the Little Things, revisited

Like many others, I’ve often said "it’s the little things." Back in November of 2008, I even wrote a post titled It Really is the Little Things. I discussed how little things that pop up in our day-to-day lives bring us moments of happiness. Now I see that the same is true of sadness.

I was hunting through my car for an item I’ve misplaced when I found a folded white cloth under the front passenger seat. It only took a moment to puzzle out that it is my father’s handkerchief that must have fallen from his pocket in July when I took him to the hospital for the last time. The realization brought a rush of images and emotions to the present. I could feel the fear in my own body as I saw myself helping my father get out of the car. And I felt nausea as I saw myself pulling away to park while my sister and my daughter wheeled Dad in to the emergency room entrance for a direct check in to the hospital. I recall my uncertainty as I decided to stay or leave so late that night. It was to be only an overnight stay, but deep in my gut, I knew that it was more. He stayed just four nights before we stood by his bed saying our final goodbyes. It all happened so quickly. He walked to the car on a Saturday night and by Tuesday morning he was breathing with only the help of a ventilator. A day later, he lay lifeless before us.

All of that from a handkerchief found in my car.

I’ve talked about my father in numerous conversations in the past few weeks. I’ve worked on opening his estate. And, I’ve written emails and letters to my siblings about my father’s posthumous financial affairs. A few recounted moments do make me teary, most notably when he mouthed “I love you, too” wearing an oxygen mask after the ventilator tube had been removed. Other than those moments, I’m mostly fine. But then I’m caught completely off guard by picking up his wallet, getting a forwarded piece of mail that had been sent to him from my children’s school or finding a handkerchief. These things unearth simple, yet deep memories and represent a future that might have been. I can imagine him paying for lunch at a sandwich shop, walking through the school for one of the kids’ events or pulling out that handkerchief to cover a cough (always the gentleman). This is what I’m left with now that the breath and the flesh have gone.

It truly is the little things.