My father is dead.
Fritz is no longer going to be a phone call away. It’s no longer going to be a big deal that I call him that instead of Dad. He’s never going to take me to the airport again or drive us here and there. No more exaggerated Fanfane (Stephanie in creole) every time he said my name.
I’ve had a full 24 hours to swallow that bitter truth. For a while there on Tuesday, I held onto the hope that someone would come to the podium and address the fake news. It’s real now. One of the stages of the grieving process down, I guess.
My first big break in journalism was as an obituary reporter. It was far from being Lois Lane and covering the exciting stories but we all have to pay our dues. Some of us do but I digress. Day in and out, I was overwhelmed by the grief being felt by others. Death wasn’t foreign to me but there’s never any breaks when it’s your job and especially when you have to cover funerals. It became second nature to me, watching the tears fall from grieving faces, offering comfort and shaping the final legacy of words about a loved one. Still, none of that prepared me for this moment in time. You’ll never know what it’s like to lose a parent until that moment comes.
The last time I really cried was in January 2012. I’d gone to Haiti to see my grandmother. She’d been in failing health and we spent over a week in the Caribbean without WiFi but that didn’t disturb a news junkie like me. Instead of scrolling my phone for the latest news in culture, I trained the camera on her. She said I was just like my Dad, constantly taking pictures and videos. The sun doesn’t rise without my trying to get the perfect shot. I inherited his photography skills and my grandmother playfully scolded me to just let her be for a minute. I had to disobey her because in the back of my mind, I knew it would be the last time I ever saw her alive. At the end of the trip, I cried like a baby. For a half hour, I just cried and emptied myself. In November 2013, I returned for her funeral and a drop didn’t fall from my eyes. In that moment, I settled into the role of being the strong one.
That way of thinking continued on Tuesday. I just wanted to be there for everyone else, including some of my siblings who were overwhelmed. One in particular was my sister. For years, we’ve been making plans to meet up and never did. There were no more excuses with him gone. We shared a few memories, regrets and side eyes about our Dad. He was problematic. Very much so and I won’t judge others who still feel their hurt but I forgave him years ago. I let God have it and favor was shown to us in that moment. We managed a good hour of self care by indulging in makeup. My Dad died and I’m giving face a few hours later. Honestly, I wasn’t getting casket ready. Just dealing with everything in my own way and thinking that he made the sister love happen.
The next time we’ll all be together is at his funeral. I’ll see him one last time. Or some resemblance of him. I’ve seen death what does to the body. It’s unrecognizable but it puts me at peace to know that he left this realm knowing that I loved him. There was no doubt. I may not be Florida Evans screaming DAMN! DAMN! DAMN! and it’s not in the rule book to figure out what shade of foundation goes with my skin tone while his body is still warm, but I loved him. I love him. Absolute facts.
I’m not sure what comes next but as they say life goes on. Kanye West is inspiring Nazi’s to wear his ugly clothes and shoes at an upcoming Tiki torch rally, Lebron James is still doing King things and Infinity War is almost here. In the midst of that, there’s an incredible well of support for me to tap into as this crazy world spins on its axis. Humbly, I thank every person who reached out to support me and my family during this time. Once living our separate lives, all of us who bear his name have united as one. It’s a grace that makes all of this a bit easier. If the measure of a man are his children, Fritz did a pretty good job if I do say so myself. And I do.