Grief, however, is NOT instantaneous. It's more like this ...
I've had to "deal with" my father's death several times during my life. ... I had to deal with it that first evening at the hospital, when I came to grips that HE really wasn't in that motionless body anymore. ... I had to deal with it the next morning, when I was in denial, and sneaked behind my mother's back and had a neighbor drive me to school. ... I had to deal with it a year or so later when a loving teacher took me aside and talked with me about how I needed to make a choice - either continue to use his death as an excuse (not to do well in school, not to participate in extra-curriculars, to just sit by and watch life pass me by) or to use it as a stepping stone and grow from the experience. ... I had to deal with it at family reunions when his presence was sorely missed. ... I had to deal with it when as a teenager my mother and I would disagree and in my anger I was convinced that HE would have let me do such-and-such (in all reality, he wouldn't have, though). ... I had to deal with it at my wedding, when he wasn't there to walk me down the aisle. ... I had to deal with it during my first pregnancy, when he wasn't there to tell me how excited he was - or to say what an adorable grandson he had - and that he was so proud.
I accepted his death years ago. I have no idea when, it just slowly happened, maybe 10-15 years ago? I don't know. I've accepted his death. But I still miss him, and think of him, and periodically wonder if he'd be proud of how I'm turning out. Of course, I'm glad he's not here to have gone through the pain of a daughter who's diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Today marks 20 years since his death. And today I remember him. Today I thank God for giving me a godly father, who wasn't perfect (by a long shot), but who sincerely TRIED. And because of my father, I have married a godly man, who isn't perfect (by a long shot), but who sincerely tries. Thank you, God, for my Daddy.