Friday, July 09, 2010

It's a Crappy Day

I've periodically mentioned that July is often a rough month for me. I don't mean for it to just is. You see 35 years ago this very afternoon, my father died. I was 11.  It is a earth shattering event for a child. And in some ways, I still feel like that raw little girl, missing her daddy.

There are years I'm not even aware of it until I find myself full of despair for no apparent reason. And then I notice the calendar. There are years where it feels like the world is out to get me. And then I notice the calendar.

I'm not into this nation's whole cult of celebrity, but last year when Michael Jackson died, I was so annoyed by the 24 / 7 news coverage it got here in LA LA land. I mean, he's a singer; Not some head of state. He didn't cure cancer or anything important. But then, when his 11 year old daughter spoke at his funeral, there I was, sobbing my heart out.

I had so many things I wanted to say to that girl...things I know from experience. The first ten years, the anniversary date will place an ache in your soul so vast, you think nothing will fill it. Year 11 will be hard when you realized you've lived as long without him as you had with him. Year 12 will be even harder because you've lived longer without him than the days you had him in your life. By year 15, you won't see his face in your dreams any longer. You will stare at his picture and wonder what is wrong with you that you can't visualize him without help. By year 25, it starts to hurt a little less... just a little. By year 30, the date doesn't loom as large but can still hit you like a ton of bricks when you least expect it. And that's just all the crap that a date on the calendar carries.

There are all the coulda woulda shouldas that come up. The milestones he's missing. Would he like your boyfriend / husband? Would he approve of your choices / work? Would he be proud of you? You feel his absence as much as you ever felt his presence. Your graduations. Your wedding.

And then when his siblings start dying and you start to imagine what age he "should've" died. How old would he be? Would he still be strong? Would he still love you? Would he still know you?

It's a lot for a little girl to bear.

The other thing I would tell her is that she will wake up the next day. And she will get out of bed and do...something. And she will feel better. She will realize that life goes on. Because it must.


the booker man said...

please know that i am sending many hugs to you today. i can't even imagine the heartache that you have suffered. also, thank you for being so open and honest in this post. i'm sure you have brought comfort to others that have suffered the same loss as you.
*big hugs*
noelle -- the booker man and asa's mama

Anonymous said...

oh, man, this was heart wrenching. I know from experience it eventually gets better, but I was in my mid-20s when my dad died, and I can't imagine what it's like for a kid.

Snowbrush said...

My parents died in my presence. I was 37 when my mother passed away and 46 at the time of my father's death. Even so, I still relate to what you said about feeling like a child who misses her father. Despite their failings, few, if any, people are ever there for us as fully as our parents. They were the buffer between us and the world, and now we are on our own. Maybe that's supposed to feel okay, but it doesn't.

I'm awfully sorry for your heartache every year.

rottrover said...

I had listened to Terry Gross's interview of W.S. Merwin this morning before reading your post. He's the new Poet Laureate of the U.S. He read from his poem "a single autumn" about his parents' death. Another of his poems closed with the line, "i have only what i remember." Your post resonated with me and Merwin's poetry. There is no filling the void left by our parents' loss. Only our memories. (And maybe our love for our pups :)

K9friend said...

I lost my dad, and then years later, my mom. I wasn't a child when either event happened, but still feel it keenly. You're right. We honor lost loved ones by living our lives each day, to the very best of our ability.


Velvet Sacks said...

I was in my 50s when my parents died. I didn't know my father well, so his passing mostly left me sad about lost opportunity. But my mother's death was a different story. I can still tap into the shock and disbelief I felt, and I remember that the first time I was alone after she died, I felt such raw, naked grief that I literally called out loud for "Mama!" The weird thing was that I'd always called her "Mother," and when I heard myself crying out for "Mama," it scared me. I can only guess that the loss of a beloved parent brings out very primal feelings even in middle-aged adults. It must be especially difficult for a child.

Duly Inspired said...

My friend, I have nothing to give you but a hug and a hand waving over a worn path, telling you it's always safe to walk. But then again, I believe that's what you did for me. Thank you for sharing yourself. Your words expand my understanding of the world. And loss.