My dad is almost six months gone and I can’t bear it. I can’t understand how life has managed to continue, I am struck by the cruelty of this as well as the necessity and the beauty. I can’t stand in that same place I found myself the morning of December 9, 2012. I had to go on and that’s all there is to it.
The last few months I’ve been confused, my grief has been shoved to the very back of my life, there is no room for it. I am consumed by the needs of others, my job, exhaustion, and I repeat to myself daily, when the thought of him swims into my mind, “Daddy is dead.” I tell myself this because if I don’t, I may just start to believe that this is another one of those long periods of time when we aren’t seeing each other. (Part of me still believes this. I can’t bear to think that I will never take another trip to Texas to see him in that sad little nursing home, that I will never grip his skeletal hand in mine again.)
What does it mean when someone dies? I have been obsessing over the moment of death since he passed away. I wonder about pain, about sorrow, was there a moment where everything became illuminated and he became enlightened? What were his last words and did he think of me? Was it like falling asleep? What happens when we die and where do we go after?
I have no answers. And for years I wished for closure and even in his death, there still is none.
Yesterday we drove up to San Francisco and spent a couple of hours in Golden Gate Park with one of my dear friends and her husband. Charlie and Simon found a tunnel that went under the street and led to the amphitheater, and they kept running through it, yelling and listening to the echoes of their voices. Oh, to be so young and so in awe of the world. To let loose something into the world and to watch as it’s returned. To have utter faith that it will be returned. I can’t bear to think of the ways in which life will break their hearts. I can’t bear to think of my dad as a little boy, and I can’t bear to think of how we get from that purity to this brokenness.
I sat with my friend and we talked in the mist while passing Daphne back and forth between us, a young man was playing his cello nearby and I gave him a dollar. Golden Gate Park stretched in front of us in all its majesty as I let my heart break a little bit while we talked. We talked about grief and how it looks the same no matter what or how you’re grieving, and then we talked about letting go, and the fear that letting go means that what you’re grieving never meant that much to you to begin with.
I fear that someday there will be a final echo of my father, and then just silence.
(i write these words
hundreds of miles
from where you
are resting peacefully,
you are so close to me,
part of me,
my DNA tied to your ashes,
bits of bone,
pieces of bone,
you are so far from me,
I don’t know how
to go on without you.)