Four days ago was the sixth anniversary of my dad’s passing from our mortal world. An unremarkable anniversary, a little late.
A friend of mine gave birth to her first child not long after my father died. A couple weeks afterward, in fact. At the time in 2004, I was a wreck… an autopilot version of myself. Fully functional on the outside, catatonic on the inside. On the precipice of spending a couple of years living someone else’s life in order to escape the great sorrow that consumed me. And I remember how touched my friend was by my experience as she was about to begin her own. Touched in a way I didn’t understand beyond knowing that it’s a big deal to have a child. A happiness I was (and still am) incapable of totally pulling together.
This same friend brought up my father’s death the other night as we were catching up, sipping wine at some trendy bar I had suggested. The topic was completely appropriate and unquestionably appreciated. And I am deeply ashamed to admit that if she hadn’t said anything, the date wouldn’t have triggered anything in my mind. At all. I had forgotten that September 20th was the day my dad died.
I’m not some sort of a monster. I mean, ask me the details of the day my dad died and I’ll tell you that it was a Monday, and it was late, and I was sitting in my living room chatting on IM in my pajamas when the phone rang… and it was a call I expected, so that when the news was delivered I felt some kind of gross satisfaction that yes, this was the exact call I expected to get just now and here it is, I’m right… and then I walked around the block 40 times chain-smoking cigarettes because I had mentally left my body and was immune to reason and judgment and nothing irresponsible I did mattered because all I wanted was to be closer to him. I remember taking a shower to get the smoke off me and thinking that if this was all a dream, I’d be so impressed because oh how it felt so real. I remember that earlier the same day I reluctantly told my boss that I was probably going to have to take some time off, because I knew it was coming, and telling him that made it real, and it didn’t want to have the conversation but by doing it I was being responsible career-wise. And I told him and we both cried. And then what I knew would happen, happened.
I haven’t forgotten any of it. Yet six years later, September 20th was just another day, and I let it go by, and I didn’t call my mother. And I realize that our brains do these things to us because we need protection, we need to go easy on ourselves, we need to forget in order to be productive. We need to be successes and we need to get things done and we just can’t bring the bad stuff into the fray because then we won’t be productive and people will think less of us. I realize all of that. And yet, I’m ashamed.
I miss you, Dad. I’m sorry I forgot. And I wish you were here to smile knowingly at all of this, because I know you would. I got this from you. And then you’d wink at me because you know how much I hate it and I’d yell at you and be SO ANNOYED.
How’s that for my first blog post in four months? Whew. Weight lifted. Shoulders back. Thanks for reading.