Friday, February 17, 2006

Heard this on the way in to work today.
and yes, life carries on.
I think its time to write about living again 'cause that's what we are here to do, isn't it?

Been crossin' that bridge,
With lessons I've learned.
Playing with fire,
And not getting burned.
I may not know what you're going through,
But time is the space,
Between me and you.
There is a light through that window
Hold on say yes, while people say no
Life carries on

---from Prayer for the Dying by Seal

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Thanks for your patience friends. I fear at times that in writing to help me process my grief, I end up raising memories or doubts for my readers, things that are possibly more painful for you than me. For any of that, I am sorry. And I appreciate the comments and emails.

Death leaves me, leaves probably every one of us with a set of doubts and regrets I suppose. Certain memories of the last few months are more painful than I'd admit if you asked me how I was doing over lunch tomorrow. But right beside them are a huge pandemonium of memories built over 46 years of close relationship that have to be integrated into my new "parentless" self. This is work, and I am probably not taking it as seriously as I should, and still I seem mired in my head unable to say much about it all.

On my second night at the house, exhausted from a full day of sorting and packing and catching up with family, I noticed a black notebook lying on the twin bed next to mine as I crawled into bed. We'd been looking for various documents to help with the estate so I opened it up expecting to find another set of carefully organized financial statements but instead there are some three, four years of recent email correspondance between my Dad and me. I sort of expected to find his ghost whispering to me in the house, but I didn't expect to find those words printed in black and white, as tangible a haunt as it could be. I started to read, the pages turning echoing the quiet rustling of my three other family members, sleeping off the grief as I should have been.

As I understand it, my Father's generation didn't talk about personal stuff with their spouses, their best friends, their co-workers. Not the sort of soul searching kinds of stuff we hash out now for all the world to see on our blogs, with our life coaches, with our grocery checker. I guess I always have confided in my Dad, but the years following my divorce involved a lot of soul searching and questioning, and apparently I shared a lot of it in those emails I found in the black notebook. At one point he wrote "You think you know your children, and then they tell you things and you find out who they really are." Over the last few years I sent poems, questions, reminscences, exposing him to the world through my eyes, and I'm sure at times he was puzzled or shocked. There weren't so many words in the replies... generally supportive answers or some stories of his and some additional questions, but he never told me he was keeping our correspondance so it hadn't occurred to me that it meant very much to him. Oh he teased me at times saying he was going to print out my poems and self publish them but here was every email printed, hole punched and placed neatly in the notebook. And reading them that night, I found myself shocked at the intimacy. Not so much any one email, but when gathered in aggregate it pointed to a kind of relationship that I doubt my Dad experienced with others - possibly not even my Mom. She wasn't one to bare herself much, I think she saw it as a sign of weakness.

When you strip away the doubts and regrets, its still safe to say he knew me as well as anyone could. The vulnerabilities, hopes, fears, passion, strength and the deeper understanding of what anchored me, what set me adrift. And it gave him permission to express these things too, maybe in a way he hadn't been able to in the first part of his life. I worry about whether he'd have preferred to die at home, but I never question if he could trust me when it mattered. To say what needed to be said, to hear what needed to be heard, to lean on as he got weaker. That we would understand each other. Maybe that's what makes the doubts and regret harder... the suspicion that I put logic over intuition at the worst time. But intuition tells me he isn't walking through some afterlife carrying a grudge about those last few months. There isn't unfinished business between us.

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