So today marks two years since my father’s passing. This whole month has taken me down a memory lane filled with the most lasting painful memories I’ve ever made.
Knowing that, whenever I visited my father I was seeing him move inevitably closer to that final goodbye, knowing that every time I heard his weakening voice I needed to capture that precious sound before it was gone forever.
One Saturday afternoon, soon after his diagnosis, he called me. Postpartum and overwhelmed, I had just snapped up my laptop and run out of the house near tears after telling my husband I’d be back.
Ever reasonable and definitely not averse to my getting out of the house alone, K’s only questions were where I was going (the nearest Starbucks), and when I expected to return (I wasn’t sure). It turned out to be about 3 hours, which I spent binge-watching “Arrow” on Netflix with a gigantic cup of tea.
My father’s call arrived just as I parked the car. So I answered, and I’m sure he could tell I was upset, because after greeting me and ascertaining where I was and why I was there, his first question was, “Do you have time to talk?” And my heartfelt answer was, “For you, always.”
One year has passed, and a hollow ache permanently resides in my heart. I have journaled (those exact words), I have wept, I have struggled with my faith, and I have grieved. I think I always will, because nothing will ever fix the hole my father filled in my soul.
But I am stronger. I can talk about him now without falling apart, choking up, and crying more ugly tears. It still hurts, but I can now remember good memories and not just the painful ones of his decline.
I think he’d like that, for me to remember him with joy rather than sorrow, since he was a rosy-cheeked man many described as “jolly.” (And yes, on more than one occasion he donned that red suit and played the part of the really jolly man with rosy cheeks for the children during our community holiday party, though we—Hindus all—celebrate Christmas in only a secular way.)
It would have been nice to commemorate his passing with some achievement, with some thing to be proud of, but I realize now that “something” is me—I’ve been a work-in-progress all year, a broken shell of myself, a Humpty Dumpty fallen off the wall. And I’ve been collecting the pieces and gluing them all back together. The cracks still show, but the form is returned to a whole.
I wonder what this next year will bring, without him. But I think I’m ready to attempt it.