"Passing bells and sculpted angels, cold and monumental, seem for you the wrong companions. You were warm and gentle."
I'm "working through the unimaginable," to quote Hamilton.
When I was a kid living in the Philippines, my brother Tim introduced me to Broadway musicals. I particularly remember us listening to The Phantom of the Opera on repeat. Sometimes we had to take the cassettes out of the tape recorder and wind the film back into the cassette because it got tangled in the tape recorder. They played "Good Morning" from Singin' in the Rain every morning on the radio, and we taped it, along with other songs like "Put on a Happy Face" from Bye Bye Birdie. We listened to Broadway and Christian music all the time. (My mom got tired of the screams in Phantom of the Opera.)
Through it all, my dad, an avid sports fan, who once dreamed of raising a softball team, encouraged his two sons in our love of music. Neither of us were particularly into sports as he had hoped, but he didn't press us to do something we wouldn't like. (Though we have enjoyed attending baseball games together, and Tim and I have attended a lot of rugby games since the Seattle Seawolves started a couple years ago.) My dad paid attention to our interests and encouraged them. He enjoyed Phantom and other musicals with us. We watched the classic movie musicals as a family. I lost count of how many times we watched The Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof, and others. Someone gave us the animated musical of Gulliver's Travels ("Aaaalll's well! It's a hap-hap-happy day!") and we watched that video many times. So many happy memories.
Every play, musical and concert in school, my dad was there rooting us on. Tim played Captain Corcoran in HMS Pinafore in high school. I would later be in a Disney revue and Oklahoma! when I was in high school. In college, Tim was in a community theatre production of Carousel, and I would later be in South Pacific in a different community theatre group. We both were in Oliver! Tim was in a lot more community theatre shows than I was. I was also in several plays, such as Arsenic & Old Lace, The Curious Savage, You Can't Take it with You, and others. My dad cheered us on and constantly encouraged us. My parents enthusiastically joined our church choir when my brother joined, and when Tim later started directing it. I also participated.
My dad and I also enjoyed watching adventure movies together, such as Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean, Master and Commander, Star Wars, and others. We enjoyed discussing them.
For Tim's 30th birthday, my parents treated us to a nearly-lifelong dream of watching The Phantom of the Opera in its national tour when it came through Seattle. Years later, on my 40th birthday, they told me I could name the musical and we would go. It took nearly a year for the right musical to come through Seattle, but we went to Come from Away as a family. We couldn't know it would be the last show we would see together as a family of four.
Last month, my dad was watching football when he had a stroke. We called 911, and he was rushed to the hospital, then transferred to another one a little further away. A week and a half ago, he was put on comfort care, and we rushed to the hospital, where Tim and I both got to talk to him individually and thank him for being a truly amazing father. The next morning, he was gone. We got the call in the middle of the night and rushed back to the hospital. He had been gone nearly an hour when we arrived.
It seems unreal. Just a month ago, he was relatively healthy. Now, he's gone. It's hard to take in. The past week and a half we have been involved in arrangements and so much other stuff involved in losing him. While I'm currently doing better than I would have expected, the grief has been up and down. I'm sure it will intensify as the burial makes it more real.
My mom commented he will have a better Christmas than we will. I rest in the assurance that he is in a better place, with no more pain, completely healed. That is a big help. But I find myself "wishing [he] were somehow here again." I regularly think of a question to ask him or want to share something with him that he would enjoy, only to realize that can't happen. As of a couple weeks ago, he was the only person I had bought Christmas presents for so far.
I remember the amazing man he was, and I think of how much I took for granted when he was with us. So many times I have heard people who have lost a loved one beg their friends to treasure their loved ones while they are here. That never really sank in for me until the past few weeks. I've always appreciated him, but I do now more than ever, and I wish I could tell him.
Several songs have resonated with me in ways they haven't in the past. Josh Groban's rendition of "To Where You Are" has helped. "Here Comes the Sun" by the Beatles. Several hymns, such as "It Is Well" (which was written by a father who had just lost his daughters in a shipwreck). The worship song "We Will Dance". My friend Clay Crosse's rendition of "Time to Believe". "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again" from The Phantom of the Opera. "Bring Him Home" and "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" from Les Mis (another cast recording my brother and I played over and over in the 80s and 90s). Multiple songs from Come from Away. "Proud of Your Boy" from Aladdin. "Endless Night" and "He Lives in You" from The Lion King. "All the Wasted Time" from Parade. "It's Quiet Uptown" from Hamilton. "The Honor of Your Name" from The Civil War. Multiple others.
Thank you to everyone who has been so supportive, even not knowing what was going on. You have been a major encouragement to us.