I thought he was already dead when he surprised me and took his last breath. That shocked me and his expression kept craved in my mind. He died peacefully, silently, holding my mother’s hands and looking at her, his love of 56 years, surrounded by his children, grandchildren and with a priest.
He was almost killed in an attempt against a train in WWII, after that in a prisoners camp and after that in refugee camps. And finally he died like he never imagined in his risky youth: old sick and exhausted surrounded by his family.
I don’t know why, but the priest was too moved to pray aloud and asked me to do so in Croatian, my parents language, while my father was dying. I did what I could, trying not to cry.
Then, when all was over and we close his eyes, the sadness was uncontrollable. I was at peace, because my father died so exemplary and I believe in God and in Heaven. But this is not a shield to sadness, to this hole in the heart, so big as big is the love for the person who is gone. And my love for my father is really big. It takes almost all my heart. He was my confident, my master, my rock. When he was with us I felt sure, I had him to ask for advice. I learned from his words and from his silences. From his life with us. Without him I feel like the ground disappearing below my feet. I feel a part of my life is gone with him.
I have his diaries, and reading them I’m discovering more things about him that make me love him even more and suffering more because of his departure. But I don’t mind, love always comes with suffering. It’s part of life. A very important part of life I dare to say.