Wednesday, February 9, 2011


My PR company put out a statement about what it was like to go to Florida two weekends ago and spread my dad's ashes: "It was tough but good. I'm glad we went." Not much to shake a stick at but necessary for presenting to the general public because I hadn't really made sense out of the whole experience. Hell. I don't think I ever will.

And then it came in the middle of a phone conversation yesterday.

Truth be told I was avoiding the question and when I couldn't sidestep it any longer, I was unable to even get the words out. I had been anticipating the inability to breath two weekends ago but not then; not on the phone. I couldn’t blow it off with the canned “it was tough” response. The finality was so true and thick; hard and heavy like hearing cold metal latching a door closed. It surprised me so much that I apologized not because I was crying but rather because I didn’t expect that to be the situation that would bring it out.

I waited for it to come in Florida. I welcomed it there. It was almost as if the trip was my time to mourn. But when we got there, it felt like strictly business. I was on autopilot filling boxes and emptying shelves; looking at photos and reading old letters; feeding Miss M and packing what was left to hold on to him by. In fact, I found my emotional reaction came more from a place of anger than sorrow. Anger at having to discuss who gets what or what to throw away. Anger that, in the end, we are left with someone digging through our shit trying to make sense of it all...

Later in the day, I finally went to see a doctor to get some antibiotics for this nasty cold. He was trying to earn my business as a general practitioner. I was telling him my story of the past four months. I was explaining that no signs of postpartum were standing out from the regular feelings of cabin fever being housebound because of this cold and the weather - that and having just spread my dead father's ashes in a river two weekends ago. Nope. No strange emotions outside of the general emotions that come to light having done that.

Even that felt surreal. Strange. Unavailable. As in: my dad was already gone. Spreading the ashes was letting go of what was left of his "physicalness". Him and Helen; because that’s how he wanted it to be and that's how I could be part of a ceremony to gain closure.

His silent absence was the most profound part of the trip. I kept feeling like I should check in with him at the other end of the table at trivia or in another room at my aunt's house or back at his condo sitting in his favorite spot. He just was nowhere to be found.

No Where.

I’m not one for making more out of it than it is. He’s not saving us a spot in heaven or watching down on us with immense pride - he did that during his life. When I was with him, it felt good. Knowing what I know now, I almost wish he would have kicked me in the ass a little more but that was not his style. He loved me and made me feel like I was always enough as the person I was at any given time in my life.

Now I am left with a knowledge I always wanted and never understood what I would have to live through to realize. My interpretation of myself is deservedly honest these days: having wasted some of the opportunities he provided, having spent my time angry about what was rather than using the resources I had to build what could be. And yet, I am obliged to be nicer and tread gently with myself as well, since I don’t have my dad anymore to tell me he loves me when it feels like the world doesn’t.

I do hope someday I will experience an energy as lovely as his again.
It is one of my most cherished things.

I was lucky enough to find the open arms of caring friends as I lived through last year, especially at the end of it; for that I am filled with gratitude.
I refuse to consider it anything less than a good year
(a good year with one hell of a morbid sense of humor).

This year I plan to do it all over (this business of living life) with a kinder heart; with the knowledge that this day is all we have and
this moment is THE moment.

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