I’ve been pondering this article for almost a month now. I didn’t really know how to start it. I didn’t know where to go with it. All I had was an event and a few snippets of thought. I figured the best way to get it written was to start writing. So, I did.
Tori’s folks came to live with us about 8 years ago. They moved from Montana to Tennessee with us. We’ve all been mostly settled into our new home for almost a year when Charles’ health started to decline. Being that he’s not the young buck he used to be, he’s been having some issues for the past several years.
Long story short: Charles took a turn for the worse, and less than a month later he passed.
Now there’s a strange stillness in the house. I do not mean that everything is quiet and calm all the time, rather, even with the regular ebb and flow of everyday life, something is off. The only way I can describe it is that no matter what’s going on, there’s an odd sense of quiet lurking in the corner.
Something is missing. Something is missing and the vacated space seems to float around the house like an invisible specter. I don’t feel it in every room, but I feel it most of the time. So what is it? This “presence” isn’t alive so it certainly isn’t any kind of entity. It’s just blank. Empty.
I’ve come to realize that this mass of blank isn’t really just one thing. It’s the little things. It’s all of the little things that I miss. Charles and I used to chat on the porch or deck about the day’s weather and playing Forge of Empires. Our chats were nothing big or important, but they were ours. Now, they have stopped.
Every so often we’d decide to have tacos for supper and all sit down at the table for a family meal. Charles would always fill his shell with too much goodness. He’d have a hard time holding it together and make a note not to construct the next one so full. He’d finish the 1st and then make a 2nd one. It would be too full. Then he’d get full. But come Hell or high water, he was going to finish that 2nd taco.
He always did.
When he was tired, or maybe a little grumpy, he wouldn’t greet anyone with words. He’d just grunt out a closed lipped “hmm”. Kind of like the guy in Sling Blade, but only it was just the “hmm” part of the “m-hmm”. His grunts became a running joke we all enjoyed.
To let you know the kind of man Charles is, I’ll tell this story:
While we were in Montana, Charles started feeling some pressure in his chest and having shortness of breath. He said it was just heartburn or indigestion and continued about his business. On the 3rd day of indigestive heartburn, we figured he was having a heart attack and needed to get to the hospital. Before heading for the emergency room, he took himself upstairs to use the bathroom. No easy task for one in his condition. Next he went out onto the porch and finished his cigarette. Then he went to the hospital.
Most of the time when Charles would enter whatever room Tori and I were in, she would almost always greet him with, “Hello, Poppy.” I miss hearing her say that. She probably won’t say it in that context ever again.
Just about every night, Tori and I would be watching TV. Charles would shuffle through the living room on his way to bed. The passing verbal exchange would go like this:
Derek: Good night.
Tori: Good night, Daddy.
So it’s not one big thing missing from our daily lives. It’s all of the little things. The lack of his presence in the house is definitely felt. But it’s all of the little things that surrounded him that I miss the most.
Charles is a believer. We take solace in that knowing he’s where we want to eventually be. We also know that one day we’ll see him again. Even though he has exited this stage, we know that in the not too distant future, we’ll exit and join him with our Savior. Until that time comes:
Good night, Poppy.
Note from Tori: “This was actually written back in September of 2022. I just couldn’t make myself sit down to go through my photos yet, to find one to put on this post. Thank you to my sweet husband, Derek, not only for this post that says so much, but for his patience in waiting to get this published. He knew I needed time, and I love him for that. Along with him, I miss Daddy terribly. I have not yet been able to put it all into words here. Maybe someday soon.”
(Photo by: Tori Close)