Angela stood at the head of the casket holding on tightly to her dad’s trembling hand. She was so proud of her father’s indomitable courage. The long line of well-wishers saw only the pretense facade of determined acceptance enlightening the man’s face.
This daughter of a tender, sensitive, and passionate man knew her father was holding on to his nerves by only the thinnest of threads. Angela knew how precariously close her dad was to breaking down in tears again.
Seeing tears welling in her father’s bloodshot eyes she squeezed his hand tighter. “Dad,” she whispered in his ear. “You know Mom would want you to be strong. Hang on a little longer and this wake will be over.”
Angela saw her father nod his head and dig into his reservoir of courage to find the strength to persevere a little while longer. She saw his eyes glance again at the shell of a body that once held the soul of his beloved wife of thirty years.
The inhumane, insidious ravages of breast cancer had destroyed Angela’s mother’s body. Like a carnivorous beast, the cancer had savagely eating away her flesh and had left only the skin and bone skeleton of a once vibrant and vigorous woman.
At long last the time came for family and friends to go home for the night. The funeral was set for two o’clock the next day. Angela and her husband linked their arms around her dad and helped him to their car.
Her father threw a glance back at the funeral home. “Oh Angela,” he wailed. “How can I leave her in that cold, dark place? Damnit, she should be alive and well and sleeping in my bed with me!”
With gentle persuasion, Angela managed to get her father into the car. The man spoke not a word all the way to his house. Tears dripped from his eyes as he stumbled up the steps to the cold, lifeless home that had once know love and joy.
As Angela took her father’s keys to open the door, she looked towards her husband. “Bob, I can’t leave Dad alone tonight,” she said. “Just go on home and you can come get me after breakfast tomorrow.”
“Angel, don’t you fret so much,” her father insisted. “I’ll be fine and if I’m not I’ll just give up and fix it so I can go on up to heaven to be with Beth.”
Angela’s husband took over. “Jonas, now don’t you say such foolish things,” he said. “Tomorrow will be a whole new day when things will get better. For tonight, you just let your daughter be a comfort to you.”