Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day

I continue to read Cheryl Strayed's wonderful book "Wild" and I continue to skim over, and then file away, some of the phrases she lays down, so gifted in her prose, as I emailed a friend today, there are too many words, paragraphs, thoughts, to post here in this humble blog.
So I give you a snap shot of today, my second Father's day as one 'without', just experiencing the day, with my mother and sister for part of it, on my own for all the other parts.

Last night, late, as I ended my Saturday evening in my room, reading in bed, I came across this line in the Strayed book:  
"When she'd become sick enough that we knew she was really going to die, when we were in the homestretch to hell, when we were well past thinking anything would save her".....
It was this line that really caused me to fold up last night.
Homestretch to hell. Yes. Exactly that. No other pretty, flower-ed words to cover up just what it is like to know that the end is coming, in the most horrifying fashion possible, no escape for you, for your loved one, for the rest of your family. No running away from the last moments, no seeing what they will be like beforehand, the ultimate in life's surprises. No preparation, even when you're given, to the week, the time that things will end for your loved one here on this planet. Here, as Gary Zukav describes it, in 'earth-school'.
I wanted to blog all the amazing thoughts I had last night, but I couldn't move out of my bed after I read the homestretch to hell paragraph. I couldn't budge. I couldn't do anything but cry, and even those tears were tentative--can I cry about an author's tragedy, about someone else's beloved parent's demise? I did anyway, though I didn't get to all-out pitch til today about ninety minutes ago.

I rode out the day.
I awoke, early.
I made coffee. Drank it. Cruised FB, looked at the loving messages from friends, treasuring each and every one. Looked at pictures people had posted of their dads, either from their youth, or with their dads, today.
Thought about what my friend L. had said, summing it up to me so succinctly a couple of weeks ago as we sat, side by side, in a booth at Prohibition, "you can imagine your parent's death but you can't conceptualize it".  True enough. The concept is there, but when you're looking at it from the other side of the lens, it's inconceivable that there will not be an endless amount of father's and mother's days, and that your siblings will always, always be there til you're too old to know any better, and that your friends too will live forever, along with every man you've ever loved. They'll be out there, living their lives, in their own way.
Not true, as the last few years have taught me.

I ran eight gruelling miles.
Showered, did laundry, life-goes-on type of stuff.
Sent messages to friends who had recently lost their dads and were making it through their first, second, or third father's day without in their own way.

My sister picked me up and we drove to my mom's, had lunch, scooped up part of the ashes from the bag in my mom's closet, and took them down to the foot of Balsam Avenue, my mom's new address. It's a quick walk, about five minutes.
We saw a small jetty on the narrow stretch of beach just past the boardwalk, east of Kew Beach, where we spent weekends as a family when my sister and I were very small. My father loved to swim.
We had scattered some of the ashes in the backyard of my parent's Ajax home the night before my mom moved, mingling them in the frozen ground of the March snow-covered earth to leave them with our family black lab, Shadow. Now we walked to edge of the stony jetty. Poured the ziploc bag of ashes directly into Lake Ontario. My mom and sister both cried. I couldn't, I just couldn't. I had to wait until I got home, back to my own self, to really let go, to allow the emotions wash over me.
I just let them all pass through, whirl around, and in the midst of it, an email from a dear friend brought me back down to earth. Calmed me, as only she can do.

It's early evening now, the sky is darkening, not with night, but with weather, and my senses feel heightened, alert. I need to walk, to stretch my mind some more.
What can I say. I cried even looking at the Google-doodle on today's Google page.

I miss my Dad.

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