I can’t write anymore. Or maybe it’s that I just don’t want to. I don’t want to delve into the dark corners of grief, those which hold the loss of my father and the life he left behind. I don’t want to lay out the relationship we had and examine it like a dead frog on a biology table. It’s gone. It’s over. My father is nothing more than ash and memory.
And yet I will. I know I will. Someday, somehow, the words will pour out of me like the alcohol poured down his throat. Because he is more than ash. He is more than memory. He is me. He is my brother. He is energy that lives on with every beat of my heart and rise of the sun. I listen for his voice in the chirp of the birds, and I reach for his touch in the incoming breeze. And I swear sometimes he is there.
He is not gone. He is not gone. He is not gone.
He is only different.
January 3, 2020 was the last time I saw him before it happened. Before a slip on the ice led to a broken leg. Before a broken leg led to surgery. Before surgery led to complications. Before his last breath swirled around me and his heart stopped below my fingers.
Before he was different.
I was headed back to California that day, over twenty-five-hundred miles away. He sat on my grandmother’s patio, deep in admiration of the photograph he held in his hand. He placed it on the railing without words. Then I, too, admired the photograph, one of him and me fishing nearly three decades ago. And I felt it; what, I didn’t know. But there was something inside of me, around me, that made life stand still. There was something about the way he had looked at that photograph, something about the way he looked at me in it, that made me realize, at thirty-years-old, just how much my father loved me.
I sat at my grandmother’s table the day after I returned to New York, two days after I learned my father’s life was reaching its end. And there on the table was the photograph. It had appeared, I was told, as if out of nowhere after my father had been hospitalized. I admired it again, now wishing I had realized sooner, not only how much he loved me, but how much I loved him.
That was so beautiful Emily. Grief is like going through doors
You open each door painfully. You never know what’s on the other side
You learn to live with your grief and each door. Sometime your heart will heal. And you’ll have memories. It takes time and alot of tears. Love uncle Joe.