In two parts, here is the first account of this week following my dad's death.

This week has been a whirlwind for me. Monday mid-day I got a call that my father hung himself at a hotel near his home. I was driving the boys home at the time, a mere mile from home. I had to pull over and cry for a minute or two before driving again. I called Rusty along the way. Once home, I didn't care about anything that needed to be done. Elliot needed his nap, Josh needed a drink, but all I wanted to do is be alone. I somehow rocked Elliot for a few minutes then laid him down. It wasn't a proper nap routine so he cried a bit in his crib and I didn't care. Josh helped himself to water from the sink then said he needed to take a rest. By some miracle both boys took a nap. I called my mom and great aunt Caroline sobbing to both of them.

Rusty came home to give me comfort and support. I began calling people, planning a trip to Denver and canceling out of all my obligations for the week. By dinner we had a plan to leave first thing in the morning driving to Denver in my father-in-law's SUV.

Tuesday we drove all day long with my great aunt Caroline. The boys were great. Caroline and I swapped stories about family and tried to rationalize what had just happened.

Wednesday we waited for things to happen. People were still traveling in, I was still making calls, and the boys needed to play. We divided our time between a pocket park, shopping for necessities, and hanging out at the hotel. That afternoon Caroline and I met up with Nell, my dad's wife of one year, and her son and daughter-in-law James and Cris. We talked to Nell about the events leading up to Terry's suicide and about the call she got that night. I also looked at paperwork for the cremation, police reports, and death certificate. That was hard. Cris had begun corresponding with the cremation people so I let her take the lead and keep me informed. We made informal plans to have a family memorial and viewing for the next day. By evening, my mom arrived and Raymond got in late.

Thursday we started the day with a family breakfast at some diner near the hotel. We looked at pictures and reconnected. I was waiting to hear from Cris since they didn't join us for breakfast as when we would have access to a Moose Lodge for the memorial. We toiled at the pocket park until the wind and chill was too much then relocated to my Aunt Laura's condo. Meanwhile I also made my own arrangements for the memorial to be at a restaurant in downtown Denver. I called several places closer to the hotel but they were booked or didn't have sufficient staff for such short notice. I got a call from Nell who told me the viewing would be in twenty minutes at the cremation place. She was misinformed but I didn't know it at the time. I called the cremation place for their address to learn the viewing was not only not scheduled yet but needed Nell's signature and payment before we could view. Feeling frustrated that Nell's side of family was unorganized and not keeping us informed, I scheduled the viewing myself for the earliest possible time, Friday at noon. We drove to the cremation place to get waivers and ultimately paid for the cremation. It was Laura who paid. We were certain Nell's children would not be able to pay before the viewing.

After the cremation place, we decided to drive by Nell's home to see where my dad used to live. We didn't go in but just took in the area. After that, we freshened up at the hotel then headed to the restaurant for our memorial. Nell was supposed to join us but there was a miscommunication that she would not. I am still angry about that. Her son and daughter-in-law did show up a bit late. We had a small private room where we spoke about all the things we loved about Terry, remembered his life and made a couple short speeches. Then my mom proceeded to get me completely drunk.

Friday, the next morning, we were granted permission to my dad's belongings and inside his home. My great aunt Caroline and I spent some time in his room taking in his essence. I took a small jar of dirt with me, his cap and his belt as mementos. Caroline took the shirt he was wearing when he was discovered and a hair brush. Afterwards we went to the viewing. He looked more peaceful than I imagined. Then we drove back to Dallas. We were on the road all day and most of the night. Rusty drove the bulk of the trip getting in at 4am. Caroline crashed on our couch then drove back to Hugo, OK the next morning.

Life is going back to normal. I still have dreams about the events of this week and about my dad. I have mixed emotions but I'm handling things well. I'll blog about the emotional side of this week later on.



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