After my Dad died, a numb patch surfaced in my brain.
I’d be buckling Summer into her car seat, her sticky fingers flailing, rain drops splattering on my back as I bent over the car to pull straps and quell flailing limbs, as I’ve done so many times and then it would hit, like a sudden train. My dad is dead.
Or, walking down the dock to the kayaks, Jude’s small hand enveloped in mine and the green-blue ripple of the Arm in May and the crumpled coconut Lara bar wrapper moving in my pocket as I walked. An everyday, mindless moment and then, my Dad’s threadbare running shoes, suddenly in my peripheral by the base of the dock. All stepped on and streaked in mud and debris. A reminder of all the years he was here and the fact that now that he’s not. And sudden tears, silent, because it’s still so confusing to Jude, who still sees him.
“Gradat’s right here, Mommy. He plays with me. He’s not sick anymore.”
I think a lot about the people surrounding my Dad’s death, because the numb patch occupies his actual presence. I think about the man in the bedroom next to his in palliative care, with the age-spotted face and huge grin, his shuffling feet. I think of the skinny Indian woman who sat silently in her bed, alone. I think of the swarm of nurses in emergency and the blinking buttons and the crystal sharp clarity that comes in every moment in death’s immediate vicinity. I think about what it all means, and what it takes to live a life mostly devoid of regret. I think about the things I can do that would make my Dad proud, if he can see me. I long ago gave up on God and the inherent meaning of life and all of that bullshit, but there is something deep and powerful in me that believes that somehow, in some inexplicable format, he’s still around. In Jude’s hand, in Summer’s flailing, hopeful fingers,