Sunday, June 19, 2011

Message to my Dad

In the spirit of the day; inspired by two writers who poured their hearts into the internet (Charles M . Blow and Ashley Sciora), I jump.

 Dear Dad,

I was only 15 - I realize now that you were desperate to go. There was nothing the doctors could do. You were a shell of the person you once were. I'm told you were the life of the party. A really fun person who could talk to any person about any topic. You passionately loved classical music - especially 19th century Italian opera. And you loved my mom. You cad! I know that if you were alive today, you'd give my mom a little wink as you would be shoving us out the door.

The first couple of years after you died I was trying to forget about it by keeping myself so busy that I wouldn't have room to think. Worked myself into quite a tizzy. I think most of my high school friends now understand. Back then, I was just a bitch. Just like all the ABC Afterschool specials, I had dreams. I had aspirations. I tried not to care that I couldn't connect with people; except for a few protectors. I have re-connected with most of them; except one. My long time high school boyfriend. Another post for another day.

I took a leap at our 25th high school reunion and started to talk to my classmates again like they were strangers, as I was to them. In high school, I wouldn't let them know who I really was. I was trying to claim a different life all together. I didn't want anyone asking me how I was doing. I didn't want to break down. I did at the funeral. It was loud, it was out of control and it was very ugly. I just don't cry pretty, like they do on TV. So I pushed my grief aside for a long time. But my grief was like Sisyphus' rock. Each time I thought I'd pushed that boulder of grief out of my life, it would come crashing back in unexpected ways.

All of us got on with our lives. We escaped to college. We pushed ourselves. I chose a field mostly because I still wanted to get your attention. How crazy! You were already dead, and was still trying to get you to see me.

I desperately needed you to talk to me when you were here. I only remember a few moments; one off handed comment about how tight my sweater was - which made me exceedingly uncomfortable. Or you would imitate the cookie monster when I made cookies so I would give you one - or four. All those times I held the hourly glass of water for you, or flipped the record on the stereo, or changed the channel. So many moments you could have talked to me. Told me a story. Tried to get me to know you before MS.

My memory of you is a constructed fantasy of pictures, stories and impressions I've picked up from other people. I have no picture of us together; just you and me, smiling at the camera.

It wasn't until I outlived you last summer when I realized that the core of my grief was not your dying. It was your not living as much as you could while you still had the chance. You gave up. It took me 30 years to understand that. I have this small moment of grace to accept your grief. You knew you wouldn't see me grow up, find the love of my life, and have beautiful kids who wake me up ridiculously early, just like I did to you that one Easter when I was 5 - before your diagnosis.

I'll just bet you never thought I'd play my first professional opera, one of your favorites, Puccini's Tosca, on your birthday. And here's the thing. When I'm performing - there are moments when I think you can see me. And in that moment; I see you, too.

#3 of 90in90 for #LUBlogTribe

1 comment:

  1. This is really quite a powerful read. It's odd the things we realize about our parents -- and the past -- as we ourselves get older.

    I liken it to our version of time travel. We understand the past when it's too late to do anything about it.

    That is the melancholy of life. But it is our melancholy and that somehow makes it beautiful.