Wednesday, October 17, 2012
A couple of weeks after my dad died, a friend of mine who had lost her mother a couple of years before that told me that the thing that left her with the most sadness since her mom's passing was thinking about the senses associated with her mom. I didn't really understand what she meant at the time; I wasn't able to isolate what the worst or the most difficult part of all of it was because it all seemed so unbelievable and so horrible at that point.
I know now what she meant. Thinking about my dad's hands, his legs, his wrinkles, his face, his voice, his laugh, his smile, his eyes - all of his physical presence - and how I'll never be able to be around them again makes me feel so sad, so lonely, and so very desperate.
Sometimes I get a little glimpse of what I think for a split second is my dad, and in that moment I am like a drowning person struggling to get back to the surface of the water for air.
About a month after my dad died, I was driving to work and saw a man that resembled him driving a car just like his. I had to pull over to the side of the road and catch my breath.
For months after he went on ahead, I woke up in the middle of the night and thought I'd heard him calling my name, just like he did so many nights when he was sick.
As I sat crying on the night of the six-month anniversary of his death, I picked up my cell phone and impulsively texted "I love you" to the cell phone number by his name in my list of contacts. A few minutes later, I got a response that read, "Who even is this?" I felt like I'd been sucker punched. Part of me wanted to text back, "Dad!! It's me! Are you ok?" but I just kept sitting there crying, and after a few minutes another message flashed on the screen that said: "I think you have the wrong number."
Several times when I've heard a group of people singing, I've thought I could pick out the sound of his voice singing above all the rest. Each time that has happened, I let myself look into the crowd, just to make sure.
About six months ago, I posted the last part of the Behind the Scenes Story on this blog. The song I chose to link to at the end of that entry was Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here." My husband, who, incidentally, doesn't usually read this blog, invited me to take a spur-of-the-moment trip to Natchez, MS, with him a few days later. While we were there, we asked around to find out where a cool bar was and ended up in a bizarre little place that was literally built into the side of the levee, a pub called Under The Hill.
Only a few minutes after we walked in and sat down on our barstools, a guy started playing his acoustic guitar, and his first song was that exact Pink Floyd song. Luckily, the darkness of the room hid the tears that rolled down my face as I sat there and listened in awe to the music.
This past summer, we had an accidental "iCloud" syncing of all of the Apple devices in my household, and all of our Contact Lists were blended together. I didn't think too much about it until a few days later when my phone rang and I looked at the screen to see that it was showing up as "Dad" calling. Evidently, my daughters had my husband's phone number listed under "Dad" in their Contact List, and so the iCloud sync had added that into my phone so that my husband's call showed up that way on my phone. In the split second it took me to realize what had happened, part of my brain actually believed it was my dad calling me, and I felt my heart sink into my stomach when the reality of what was really happening dawned on me.
On the night before we left to take my older daughter to college for the first time, I was sitting outside on my deck and noticed that the wind was blowing through only some of the branches of one of the many trees in my backyard. It was kind of eerie, and the words, "Hi, Dad," went through my mind. About 15 seconds later, an owl hooted from in the woods behind my house. I couldn't see it, but I exchanged a "Hello?" with the owl several times before the hooting and the isolated wind-blowing stopped.
A couple of weeks ago when my family was in New Orleans, I took my younger daughter and her friends to see the hotel where my parents stayed every February when they went for a business convention. There, by the fountain in the lobby of the hotel, I thought for a split second that I saw my dad out of the corner of my eye, but, when I turned to look more closely, there was no one there.
On the surface, it seems like getting a tiny glimpse or feeling a split-second connection to a loved one who has gone on ahead would be soothing, and maybe one day it will be for me - but now it mostly feels like salt (or something even worse) being poured in a wound.
"Although their physical form is gone, you are not living your life without him or her. To live truly without them would be to never have known them. Instead, you continue to live with them infused in your heart, in your memories, in your spirit. You live with their love etched into your being. They will always, now and forever, be a part of you."