My Daddy: Cornelius Dunbar Burton, Jr.
A year ago on September 20, 2015, I kissed your forehead while you breathed your last here on earth. For four nights, I sat and restlessly slept at your side listening as your death rattle became more pronounced. I witnessed you struggle with excruciating pain from the demon of cancer that ravaged your once healthy body. Although I needed to hear you call my name once more, being released from your agony was necessary.
So, early that beautiful fall morning when I awoke to the rattling noises escaping your lungs, I somehow knew it was time to say goodbye. Now, 365 days have raced by. As they say, time waits for no one. The passing of time has not lessened the sting of your death. It hasn’t brought me closer to understanding the violent nature of cancer. However, what time has provided me is the ability to live my life one moment at a time.
See, Daddy, you were the first person I have ever watched die. You were the first person whose hand I held as he took his last breath. I touched and experienced death with you. I needed to feel your moment of transition. Of course, we had issues to mend. However, during your transition, any issues you and I had no longer had meaning. They blew away with your last breath.
Daddy’s Little Girl
Daddy, I live for those memories when you and I used to race down the sidewalk when I was a little girl. I live for those memories when you used to take Troy and me to the candy store and buy us a brown paper bag filled to the brim with an assortment of sweets. I live for those memories when you used to take us kids fishing at your favorite sport on Puget Sound in Seattle. Most importantly, Daddy, I live for those memories you used to comb my hair and make me feel like I was the most beautiful little girl in the world.
Things Don’t Always Go as We Wish or Planned
Your funeral didn’t go as planned. I took it extremely hard. Many of our family members took it very hard, too. I’m sure you were happy to see that Aunt Elaine was a great comfort to me. I know I promised you to stay in touch with her. I was lost in my grief and allowed too much time to slip away. I will keep my promise.
Grieving Has No Timetable nor Order
No one can understand an individual’s grieving process. I’m still grieving. I’m still trying to understand this process that seems to confuse me daily. Although I continue living, I also know dying is a part of living. Those who are alive today will absolutely die someday. The most important aspect of death is recognizing we have wonderful opportunities to live during the in-between time.
Brown Paper Bag Filled with Sweets
I know you can hear me read these words aloud. So, Daddy, your soon-to-be, 54-year-old, first born will forever be your little girl and someday we will see each other again, race down a quiet neighborhood street to a candy store and fill a brown paper bag to the brim with sweets once again.