19 June 2006

The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows

There are things that have happened in pretty much all our lives over the last month that have been muted because Pa isn't here. My younger sisters graduated, my middle little brother got into Honors Orchestra next year, my nephew turned 1, I got a promotion...
Last week I was presented with the option of taking over a department at work, and I accepted. It's a big deal in my life. My friends and family are happy and excited and proud, and all I can manage are a few half-hearted smiles and some quick prayers of thanks. I'm excited for the opportunity, but like I said, everything seems muted. Like we're all experiencing life through filters or somehow we're viewing our lives through pictures instead of living them.

Wednesday night after I got home from work, I felt anxious and restless. Sister and I wound up on a short hike/walk near her house, where the reality of Pa being gone sort of hit me. I thought again and again of how he was constantly so proud of me all of us, even if I we didn't do anything to deserve it. We're walking in the twilight and I'm choking on tears and fighting my way through a not difficult hike. I catch sister sneaking looks at me as we both talk about the impact Pa's death has had on us and our siblings, and we toss around speculations about life and death and each other and our family.

It all just landed on me that night. I wanted to celebrate my success with my siblings, sure. After all, they believe in me and love me and encourage me everyday, even when they don't know it. But I also wanted to tell my Pa. To hear his, "Way to go, kiddo!" To know that honestly, sincerely, he was proud of me.

Most of the time I think all of us walk around in disbelief. It's hard to imagine him being really gone, so we find ourselves not necessarily denying that he's gone, but instead rounding corners blindly, hoping he'll be there.

I still cry for him almost every night. More often than should be allowed I sit on a bench or in a car or on the phone with a boy who believes our primary purpose in each other's lives is to listen to the things we can't tell anyone else. I cry and sob and mumble words of apology for letting my guard down, letting my heart free, one more time. He shushes me and applies to my sense of reason, explaining our friendship would be worthless if we couldn't cry, just as it would be senseless if we didn't laugh. Other nights I send a short message to a sister, "I miss Pa." Most times, though, I wind up in bed, clutching a Kansas Jayhawks sweatshirt, crying uncontrollably at the thought of my Pa being gone.

04 June 2006

You Know Where To Find Me

My Pa died almost a month ago. 08 May. Today is June 4. Yesterday was June 3, and we had a memorial dinner in honor of him. Almost a month after his passing.

I still choke on the words I need to say about him, about his life and death. About the gaping hole I see in the hearts of every single person I love best in the world. About the gaping hole he left in a family that up until a month ago I'm convinced thought itself invincible. I choke so hard on the words that I pretend they don't exist at all.

Last night my brother [Ryan] and I laid opposite sides of a bed in our grandparents' home, an additional sister and brother sandwiched between us, and we let slip secrets and stories and laughs. Anyone can look at Ryan and see the broken heart. Anyone can look at me and see the broken heart. I look at my little brother and am so fucking proud of him, I almost don't know what to do. I saw our Pa look at him like that.

I hear Ryan talk and am amazed alternately by his intelligence, wit, irony and awareness. I said to him tonight, "I want to write about Pa, but I don't know what to say." He replied, "Write about how he was so great and why. And write about why you're glad you knew him." So I will. I'll work on it.

My Pa taught me to write, after all.