Life After Emilee Logo | Neal Klein honoring his wife after losing her to pancreatic cancer
Life After Emilee Logo | Neal Klein honoring his wife after losing her to pancreatic cancer
Life After Emilee Logo | Neal Klein honoring his wife after losing her to pancreatic cancer

Shovel Full of Dirt

When he was gone I realized I lost my favorite parent. The one I preferred to wipe my ass when I needed it wiped. The one who protected me when I thought someone was going to beat me up on the last day of elementary school.

He had been born in Brooklyn. As an adult he was an accountant for an import export firm that was originally called Drake America. Some form of that company is still in existence today. There was a mystery around how his own father died when he himself was an adolescent. His father was delivering milk. Was he shot in a robbery? Or did he kill himself?

My father was, I think, very Mensch-like. A good Soul. A Caring Heart. A sensitive Soul. He cared for the less fortunate, like our poor neighbor, and never spoke down to or about people who had less than we did or because they were different than us in some way.  People of a different color were people. They might be from a different culture, but they were people.

When he died I had been… Hoping he would help resolve some of my fears of life, of living, and take my anxiousness and help me to be more at ease. And teach me to handle my fears and anxieties.

Goodbyes feel like abandonment. They continue to feel like abandonment. Or maybe it is that they stir up the emptiness of having, and then not having… Feeling loved, and then feeling the love has been taken away.

The hole in the ground was much smaller than he was tall. But it did seem deep. The dirt was very sandy and gritty with lots of little pebbles in it and it was very dry, like a pebble beach.

Every person gets to put in a shovel full of dirt. I wanted to do it all myself. He was my dad. Mine. No one else’s. Not even my brother’s. I resented other people being around and sharing in it. Although I wanted company and didn’t want to be alone. I did want to be alone. Alone, not alone, no one else could comfort me. No one else could say anything to soothe my emptiness inside.

I would have done all the shoveling myself if they didn’t stop me. I could have done more if I didn’t have on that tight suit that I had to be wearing with uncomfortable dress shoes which squeezed my feet and a tie that squeezed around my neck. The jacket limited my arms and shoulders.

If I had my garden clothes on, if I had my shorts on, and some garden gloves, I could have done more. If they didn’t stop me. I didn’t want to stop. I liked the feeling of the shovel in my hand. My left hand on the wood shaft and my right hand on the metal handle. I liked the weight of it in my hand, and the balance of it. I liked the sound of the shovel hitting into the dirt, the pebbles in the sand grinding on the metal shovel telling me I had a new load of dirt on there. I thought I saw a spark coming off the shovel as I slammed it into the sand and Pebbles. I liked the weight of it when I swung it over the hole and I liked the sound as it slid and scraped off the metal end of the shovel and dropped onto the wood casket below. I felt the sweat starting to collect on my forehead and drip into my eyes and down my nose. I felt my t-shirt starting to get damp on my back and stick to my skin.

I didn’t want to stop when my brother touched me on the back and gently said my name. He said, “Neal,” but I didn’t hear him at first. He said “Let me take the shovel. You did enough.” No, I didn’t do enough. I wanted to do the whole thing. I reluctantly, very reluctantly loosened my grip on the shovel. I felt I didn’t do enough. I could have done more.

I could have done more. Maybe I could have saved him if I wasn’t so afraid. Maybe there was something I could have done. God damn IT. That f****** thing that took him. I don’t know if I could ever forgive IT for taking a piece of me. I just know I lost my only friend. I am in a row boat without oars. Who am I without him? How will I survive?

nmitchk@aol.com

 

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