Two days ago, my father — no my Dad — Kenneth McCormick Laster died. He was 64 years old and he was married to my Mom for over 36 years. We lived a working class, or in policy terms a lower-middle to middle class, life. We had what we needed and got some, if not most, of our wants. This was made possible due to the labor and sacrifices made by my parents. I am grateful for them. More to the point, my Dad’s presence — physically, emotionally, and otherwise — is a void in our family that cannot ever be filled. Despite what traditional norms, say, though I am the sole Laster male in our house, my Dad is always its leader. I am seeking to learn how to guide and steer our family along the right and proper course set out by my Dad many years ago.
Meanwhile, the last few days have been a flurry of things to do — arrangements, calls, social media posts, meetings, receiving folks, receiving gifts, receiving time, and much more. And, in the middle of this flurry of things to do is the relentless question of “how are you and what can I get you?” I am grateful for this question and the frequency in which it’s been asked because it is a signifier of just how much my Dad and our family is loved and his impact on so many lives. I recognize that this question comes from a place of love, care, support and encouragement, and concern for our family. This question and its repetitive asking must be what God hears when we go to Him with “I need” prayers — it must drive Him a little crazy yet He appreciates that we are continuously seeking and relying on Him. On the other hand, the question is a little grating at time because I don’t know how I feel or what weneed.
I feel emotions but I don’t know which specific emotions. It’s not sadness or grief because I know Dad is not suffering or in pain anymore. I know that it’s not anger or disappointment because I have forgiven Dad and myself for any past differences and my love and gratitude for having him in my life supersedes all. But, I feel an emotional gumbo that is undefined and want to come out but not right now. It can’t be now because it’s not the right time. I need to be strong and present to help Mom and Kelli move forward; and, admittedly, I am afraid of what releasing it will look like. This flurry of things though has held the emotional gumbo at bay because we’ve been too busy and tired to really think about grief and loss. Yet, a couple times every day it seeps its way to surface of my heart and mind for a little bit.
However, the focus of my thoughts has been around what I’ve termed Day Zero, which is the day after my Dad’s memorial service. Day Zero is supposedly the day when things return back to “normal,” or whatever normal has become. Day Zero is when the folks who still love and care for you stop calling every day (or every couple of hours), or stop bringing food (primarily all modes of chicken), or stop saying “sorry for your loss” or asking “how are you doing and what do you need.” Day Zero, both, excites me with opportunity that will allow for my family to adapt and rebuild our path and trajectory while respecting what Dad created and has done thus far; and, it terrifies me because I feel like the emotional gumbo or the anxiety or depression may grip, not just myself, but my Mom and sister. If that happens, how do I react and do what is need to help them through? Day Zero is also the return to the fact that I am a broke and unemployed millennial looking to find the next thing while also making it the right thing to kickstart my career towards my passion. Simply, Day Zero is simultaneous a reckoning of the past, flood of the present, and beacon for the future.
Day Zero is exciting and terrifying, but I know my Mom, sister, and I will get through it together. Undoubtedly, we will have support along the way, but this will be a new path we will have, both, together and individually. In the end, Day Zero is a blank canvas, much like life, to make of it as we see fit. Day Zero is a chance to use this loss as a fortifier of spirit, belief, and wisdom for darker days — either for ourselves or in the support of others. Day Zero is much like the day after the Ascension of Jesus where the disciples had a choice to make — either wallow and accept that Jesus is no longer there to lead or catalyze the moment to spur growth in yourself and others for generations to come. That is a very real prospect for myself considering that I have yet to marry or have kids and this decision on my Day Zero could affect that outcome. I can tell you the I am going to try to emulate the disciples for myself and my family. But, what will you do when your Day Zero comes?
Admittedly, I am writing this as opposed to my speech for Monday’s memorial service, but I’ve got time. Also, thank you to everyone for their love, generosity, support and encouragement, prayers, posts, and time. We appreciate them and know that we will properly acknowledge them at the right time. Thank you!