I have wanted to write this for months, but have been unable to find the words. Perhaps the first day of Holidailies isn’t the best time, but here we are. There are so many things that will burn 2020 into our memories, but for my family, the one that burns the most is that this is the year my dad died.
I hold my grief deep inside. I cried once – when my older sister called, before it was certain (although I think we all knew the final outcome), but otherwise I grieve dry-eyed and quiet. Loss is a thing that sneaks up on you when you least expect it, and I have found myself looking for memories of him, wanting to remember him how he was, years ago before his slow decline.
There are so many things that connect the two of us. The analytical makeup of our brains. Our fear of heights. The shape of his eyes that stares back at me from the mirror. Every time I write something down, there is his handwriting – eerily similar enough to have fooled (inadvertently, usually) more than one person over the years.
The memories keep sneaking up on me, these past few months. Riding in the back of that ancient VW bus, that would pour cold water from the cooling system onto those of us in the back seat every time it went uphill. Building things in the garage. Laughing until we all were crying. Playing duets on the piano, or gathering together as a family to play together, on whatever instruments we had on hand. Him teaching us to ride bikes. Singing together in the car. Playing together in the recorder ensemble – both the one he formed, and then later the one in Sacramento. All the instruments he built over the years; all the ones he taught himself to play, just for fun – including banjo and bagpipes, among the dozens of others.
He told me for years I should try programming and when I finally, in desperation, did so, it turned out he was right. His gentle nudging shaped my entire adult career.
This is the year my father died. Perhaps at some point it won’t feel so strange and wrong to write that. I’m not sure I believe in the traditional version of heaven, but I do hope that somewhere out there, some part of him still exists. And if that’s the case, I hope that wherever he is, there is music.
*Title is taken from High Flight by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
‘Tis the season for Holidailies.
I’m sorry for your loss, but I think it’s important you shared your story. I think people can find comfort in it.
I’m so sorry for your loss.
So glad you now have a comment section!!
This is a beautiful salute to your father. I send condolences on his death.
What a lovely reflection. So sorry for your loss, Jennifer. Grief is a unique experience for each of us. I hope you’re holding yourself gently as you travel through it.
This is beautiful. I’m very sorry for your loss.
I’m so sorry for your loss. And my condolences to the rest of your family.
I’m so sorry for your loss. Such beautiful memories you’ve shared here. May they comfort you and keep him close in your heart.
So sorry for your loss! My Dad died in 2011 and my mom in 2008. It is definitely new territory learning to live without a parent. It becomes easier in time. Lots and lots of time. Even now I still have those moments when I find it hard to believe all that happened did and they are really gone.
Aww Jennifer, this made me cry. I miss Dad so much!! 2020 has sucked for so many reasons, but this one is a hurt that just doesn’t go away!