Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dear Dad,

Do you know that it's New Year's Eve? Do you have consciousness or awareness? See, this is one of the difficult things about not having a Structured Religious Belief System. I can't say with any certainty that you "went to a better place" when you died because I have no idea if there is "a better place". Or a worse place. Or a not terrible but not amazing place. But see, I don't believe that all those firmly religious folk have some 100% rock-solid notion either, no matter what they say. I guess I do like to think that you "see" from some location though. Or that your energy is around. Or something of that nature. So maybe you are aware that we're soon going to switch from 2009 to 2010.

I've never made a big deal out of New Year's Eve. I don't think you did either. We certainly never talked resolutions or Making Big Life Changes just because the year was going up one. It always seems a little ludicrous to me to act as though change or growth and making goals should happen on this one certain day and not in an ongoing way. But I am going to make something like a resolution. Or at least a promise. I have a portion of your ashes - Uncle C. gave them to me after we scattered some of them in Maine where you asked. I've had them for a little over a year sealed in a large Ziploc back inside of a black plastic container inside of a sealed Priority Mail package. I can make a lot of excuses about why I have not placed them in an urn yet: urns are a lot more expensive than I expected and this has been a lean year for money; there are so many to chose from and I can't decide, etc.

And really, there are so many to chose from, it's unbelievable. I narrowed it down to the urn having to be made of wood because I think that would suit you the best. No ornate, vase-y urns for you. You're not a cloisonne kind of guy, this is for sure. But even narrowing it down to wood leaves an infinite number of options. There are plain ones that would blend in on any bookshelf. Ornate ones with laser-etched scenes on the front of everything from a cowboy gazing out over the prairie to a hummingbird hovering expectantly over a blossoming lily. There are urns for basketball players and military men and cat lovers. Yes, cat lovers. There are urns that look like olde timey radios and urns that are actually a jewelry box with a compartment under the jewelry tray for the ashes. And there's even a "Highway To Heaven" truck driver urn with 2 silver horns attached to the top that may or may not make noise.

But the truth of the matter is that it's not about making the right choice. It's been about avoiding the task altogether. I definitely inherited your propensity for procrastinating; especially in difficult situations. But to be fair, it is not the easiest of tasks. There is a huge part of me that cannot even fathom the idea that you do not physically exist anymore the way you did. To think of you as ashes seems almost absurd. And every time I look at that damn piece of metal from the crematorium I can barely keep myself from sobbing. So what will happen when I finally haul that Ziploc full of your ashes out of that box and pour it in the appropriate urn? Except I know that has to happen. And I am sorry it didn't happen sooner. And I know that there will never be a perfectly appropriate container for your remains - that isn't the point. The point is to just do it and not avoid it. Not doing it will not change what has happened. And not doing it feels quite like I am dishonoring you, which I never want to do.

So there it is Dad, my first resolution in forever. Come 2010 your remaining ashes will have a proper urn to reside in. And while I promise, no matter how hard it is to choose one, it won't be the "Highway to Heaven" model.

Happy New Year Dad. Love,

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dear Dad,

I sometimes worry that love died with you. Which sounds incredibly dramatic, doesn't it? But you know I used to be a theater kid, so that comes as no surprise. Maybe "love" isn't the right word. Maybe it's more like "connection"? I don't know. I've had the hardest time staying connected to the world around me since you died. Since you were sick, actually. But having you still with me in the world gave me a bit more to hang on to even though I was disconnecting somewhat just to be able to handle everything.

But now? Now it's like this thick glass wall will just spring up between me and everyone else around me. Sometimes I wake up with it there and try to break it down all day. Other times it will suddenly appear in a surprise moment, usually at a bar or a party or some other social function. And it's not like it shows up because I think about you or someone mentions fathers. (Which is a whole other subject and one that I wish I could manage to avoid 150% of the time. It's like everyone's lives are lousy with father stories and anecdotes now.) And it's not like that sense of disconnection was never there. It was there a lot when I was sick as a kid. Or when I was younger and mega-insecure all the time. But it's different now. The whole world is different now. There was The World With Dad. Now there is The World Without Dad. And those worlds are more vastly different than I ever could have imagined.

But back to the love/connection thing. It's something I've been wanting again lately. Which is good being that after the breakup and you being sick and dying I did not want any of that at all even a little, thank you very much. But there's been this...longing, I guess, of late. And I know more than part of it is a longing for you to be alive. To be back. But it seems like some of it is for someone in my life; or at least an attempt at such a situation. Maybe I'm deluding myself though. Maybe it's all about wishing you were here. But I feel like I had better try something else just to make myself feel something again, don't you? Because when I'm not making music or cutting hair it's a little like I'm just floating around in puddle of sad-tinged numbness.

So, puddles and walls. And other dramatic metaphors. I guess I'm saying I want some love in my life. To give and to receive. But I'd totally settle for you just coming back too. You know, in case there was some sort of bargaining to be done.


Dear Dad,

It's funny how the most random, mundane things will make me think of you. When you were visiting last July you got a bunch of those yogurt drinks because you didn't have much of an appetite due to the chemo. All of the drinks had those peel-off foil tops underneath the plastic lids and they drove you absolutely crazy with how hard they were to remove. To this day I think of you every time I have to peel off a protective foil seal on any kind of bottle or container. It's got to be one of the dumbest things ever in the history of things that remind people of someone. And yet there it is; inescapable in its banality. I think these are the things that make losing you the hardest; the tiny moments that I never see coming that suddenly flatten me like an invisible tidal wave. Sometimes I want them to stop. But mostly I hope they never do.

Missing you always,