Friday, October 14, 2011

These Days Without You

Big Head Todd & The Monsters

I was hoping to write an upbeat piece today remembering my dad but I'm not there yet. There are great memories to be shared and laughed about, but for now I still feel sad and miss the man.

I knew this anniversary would come but I like to play games in my head. Two days ago I thought, "I have two days until I knew my dad was dead" (though I believe he died on the 12th). My sisters and I all have our own intimacies learning about his death. We have the aching in common but we all have separate moments burned in to our lives that leave each of us breathless. I take comfort in knowing we have each other.

A few weeks ago Nancy was talking about how it had been more than a year since she talked to him on the phone. At the time I figured I was approaching that milestone too and it made my heart ache anew. The last thing I said to him was to check his e-mail. When he asked why, I said I would be sending photos of the baby. That moment never came to pass. October 2nd was the last time I spoke with my dad.

Through his death I have redefined a piece of myself I wish I met years ago. A self that wants to indulge in conversations I used to be too scared to have or to say things I might otherwise let slide. This leads to an aching for things left unsaid and a deeper hurt that I came to understand this perspective through loosing him. 

I have a new respect for this moment and trying not to let it pass. There is a keen awareness that nothing is concrete and letting go of the things I can't control will serve me best. Life is short. The way it can rip you to pieces and embrace you at the same time is unfathomable. I have a deeper love for my family and for those friends who have become my family. As strange as it sounds, I also have respect for those people who never will be the former, because they too are writing their own story every day. 

It’s funny what can happen in a year. I wish I recorded all the moments in the past 365 that I wanted to discuss with my father. I never got to tell him I have a daughter - though I would bet money he would have said, "I know." I never got to ask, “How did you survive with six girls?” I never said, "thank you, thank you, a million thank yous" as a newly inducted parent. Some of these things I fantasize as conversations that could have happened when in reality maybe they never would have taken place. Still though, it’s hard not to focus on the moments without him. Miss M will never know his presence outside of the stories I tell her. I won’t hear his voice again or his laugh…oh man, his laugh was the best and making him laugh felt unbelievable. I'll never again feel silly around him or have the opportunity to glean his insight or stand next to him and wrap my arm around him.

Daily I’m reminded of how fierce love can be between a girl and her father. I greet miss M every morning only to find her response is “dada”. Once she finishes her bottle, she crawls to our room to say hi to him as well. The other night they were crawling around together upstairs when I came home. The pitter-patter sound warmed my heart. At one point in time I was just as excited about being near my dad too.

This past year has provided many moments where my earliest memories resurface through my interactions with miss M. I remember how it felt to sit in his lap or hug his legs; how I would squeeze his fingers; how he would sometimes call me “tweety” as if he had a lisp. These are things I never expected to mentally dig up but rather naturally unfolded in the presence of her. These markers are the subtle memories of our life together. I accept them as the "signs" I was aching for when he died. For me they stand in place of the more ethereal things that, once I was honest with myself, were not to be experienced. For to know him, was to know what he thought about faith, politics, and current events. He was gone and with it came an aching silence.

It is all around; at times I feel it immeasurably and at times I forget it is there. It is a silence so profound I can hear it during moments when I'm surrounded by a sea of people and experiences. It sneaks up on me as well, when I think I'm doing just fine.

Time moves more swiftly as we age. This silly game of living; this world we know; these lives we live are mere moments. Every minute is seemingly so profound and important; every second slips through to the next like a fluid taking no specific shape for too long. Still, the beauty is that we long for it to never end.

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