January 29th, 2016
Push the laundry.
An author I admire, whose name completely escapes me, once said "When my mother died, I couldn't read for a year."
One week after my dad died, my partner, let's call him Holden ("H"), went agro while behind the wheel of my car in our staid, semi-rural suburb, and I lost my shit. Apparently, H needed to pass the driver of the pickup who was trying to jam us in the left lane. H had to show him who was boss. #AgroMoment
H missed the memo. Since my dad passed (Deep Denial sometimes drives to Tahoe to snowboard for the first time; we were on our way home), I was holding it together on the outside, but decidedly unraveling on the inside. When a father dies, the daughter remains: alone.
"Don't fucking drive like that!" I yelled, white-knuckled.
He whipped the car into the first parking lot to our right and was out of the driver's seat within four seconds.
"I won't drive your car anymore," flat delivery, gaze averted.
"Perfect," was my riposte, as I swept around the opposite side of the car, Chinese-fire-drill style.
Fire for fire. Match made.
We drove the last mile of our 187-mile trip in silence. I came up with a faux errand to run after dropping him at the curb in front of our house.
It took me days to understand—and express— just how deep it all runs. Loss, abandonment, grief. Oceanic. Bigger than me.
"You see," I explained to him, "I'll need to die first. You're not allowed drive like that BECAUSE YOU'RE NOT ALLOWED TO DIE."
"I promise," said the man who goes faster on his road bike descents than the cars in his way.
Soon thereafter, he was on a flight to the East Coast just ahead of an epic ice storm.
In the void, there is poetry to remind me how it feels to feel and why I've made the choices I've made.
#liveandlove // separation anxiety
* "For Desire," is Ethan Hawkes' favorite poem. I know this because I read it in the NY Times Book Review.
p.s. Don't forget to grieve.
My father, whose vast reservoir of love was bottomless, died on January 5th, which was also my middle daughter's 15th birthday. I've since been traversing the grief triangle at left.
I'm finding a sliver of solace in our last conversation. We got to say goodbye the night before he died in his sleep.
It started before I had crossed the familiar threshold that was his hospital room door.
"Don't forget to pay my AT&T bill. They owe me a partial refund, so you'll have to do the math," he called out in my general direction.
"I'm pretty good at math because of you, remember? I'll take care of everything," I said. He sighed, relieved. (His worries mounted so much in the end that I would visualize lifting "worry plates" off his table. It was my job—clear the table.)
I changed the subject by reminiscing about the countless times he and his brother took my cousin, Missy, and me ice skating when we were kids on frozen Lake Ellyn in Glen Ellyn, a quaint western suburb of Chicago.
"We had fun, didn't we?" he allowed, between labored breaths—he got pneumonia while recovering from a broken hip.
"We did, dad."
I considered adding ... "until high school," but didn't.
He was so tired, he was having a hard time keeping his eyes open.
"You've taken care of so many people for so long," I whispered, willing back the tears, squeezing him back to life by grasping his hand. "Why don't you rest?"
"Would that be alright with you?" he asked, just before closing his eyes.
And it was.
Lake Ellyn, Glen Ellyn, IL
Here, I am a writer and change agent. Opinions: not vetted. Stories: my own.