Thursday, May 26, 2005

Dennis Casselberry 1944-2005

I never thought I'd be writing about this. Certainly not here. I wasn't even sure if I wanted to. Or if I could. I guess I'm still not sure. But many friends have been checking in to ask how my father was doing, worrying about what was going on. I am grateful to each of you for that. And so is my father. I wish I had better news to share with you. Many of you already know what's happened.

My father passed away last Friday.

What caused it? I don't know. The pulmonary embolism? A stroke? The doctors can't really say, and my mother wouldn't give them the satisfaction of an autopsy to possibly find some answers. Given how my mother, sister, and uncle have been torturing themselves, wondering what could've been done differently with my dad's treatment, maybe we could use some answers. But I don't know if they really exist.

I think all of his various health difficulties over the past 10-12 years - the heart surgeries, the stroke, the irregular heartbeats, the internal bleeding, the poking, the prodding, the pain - it all finally caught up with him. He never once complained. He never once asked "Why me?" He suffered through it all and continued to live his life. But his heart gave out. His heart stopped.

Calling my sister in South Carolina to tell her our father was gone is probably the worst phone call I'll ever have to make. Her crying, her weeping, her screaming - I hope I never have to hear my little sister suffer like that again. Along with my mother's weeping, they were all the worst sounds I have ever heard. I feel like I have to be "the strong one" for my mom and sister. And I'm trying. I'm doing my best. When I have a moment to myself, I finally let go too.

As I write this, my father's memorial service is almost nine hours away. It'll be held at our church in Ypsilanti, a place that meant so much to him, yet I stopped going there years ago. Before typing this, I finished writing what I'll say during the service. As soon as the Pastor asked if anyone would be saying anything, I told him I would. I have to speak. For me, for my family, and for my dad. If I didn't, I'd regret it for the rest of my life.

I also wrote my dad's obituary, something I hoped I wouldn't be writing for another 20 years. I don't know if you want to read it, and maybe it's gratuitous (and morbid) to post a link, but you can view it here. 300 words doesn't sum him up nearly enough, but I tried.

Over the past six days, I've spent a lot of time trying to think of a favorite memory of my dad. And I couldn't do it. But this is what I kept coming back to: As I said, he's been through a lot over the past 10-12 years. I know his life became more difficult as his health and energy faded on him. But when I look back on these most recent years, I feel good. Because he and I became closer. I got to know my dad, and he got to know me. We talked and we shared. And we found a lot of common interests - current events, politics, sports, film, literature, and music. My dad became so much more than my father. He became my friend. And I will always cherish that.

My dad knows how much this blog has meant to me. He was supportive of it all along, telling his friends and family to go read his son's "web log thing." ("Fried what? What do you mean by that?") And that's what I think about when I wonder whether I can go back to writing about all those things that right now seem so trivial. It might be a while before writing about severed fingers in food, my beloved Detroit sports teams, the media, or whatever else I noticed from the TV and newspapers strikes me as important enough to write about.

But I'll get there. Because it's important to me. And my dad would've wanted to talk about it. And also because I'm grateful to all of you who have cared and been interested enough to read this. Again, thank you for checking in to see if everything was okay. I promise I'll get back to you soon. I've never even seen or met some of you, yet you were concerned. That means a lot to me. And it means a lot to my dad.

Dad, I miss you. And I love you.