Sunday, April 21, 2019

Three years.

Today is Passover. And Easter. And three years since my dad died. I feel compelled to post something on social media because that's how we're supposed to perform our grief these days, to say, in front of everyone we know and don't know, that You, Person I've Loved And Lost, You Are Not Forgotten. I know grief manifests in different ways for different people, but I'll say that for me, this performative grief is tough. It seems there's a specific message that is expected: a broadcast that while I am remembering my dad in sadness and fondness especially today, that ultimately, I am ok. And I am ok. And I am grieving. Check the social media box of remembering the dead, etc etc etc.

My dad died when I was nearly 5 months pregnant. During that time and since, my experience and understanding of time has warped. It's been about getting through moments and hours and weeks and months. Rarely years, until I look backwards and realize how many have passed. It's a peculiar sort of fog, crisp and blurred all at once. How much of that can be attributed to grief versus motherhood versus just the nature of getting older and living a busy life is not for me to say. But today is a singular day, filled with the expected moments of sadness and joy and of life going on as usual, and not. But so is every day, filled with sadness and joy and life going on and not. 

I'm sometimes caught off guard by a sudden wave of intense sadness, because I've thought of something I want to tell or ask my dad. Something he'd get a kick out of, or something that would be much more fun to ask him than to look up online. Some days it happens several times. Some days none. But my dad is never too far from my thoughts, and he often pops in, almost as if to say hi, and I like to think that somehow he's keeping gentle tabs on our life. That he knows about Margie's budding taste in music and that my 2004 Civic is still running strong. That he's proud that we carry his memory on our keychains and in our hearts when we visit the mountains. That he's still a part of us, and all around us, and in our recipe books and backyard BBQs.

So this is my regularly-scheduled sharing of grief. I know too many friends who have lost parents in the three years since I lost my dad, and this is the way it will continue to be. I was looking back on photos from April 2016, and found a little compilation that feels right for this post. Joyful, mostly, but with a small undercurrent of sadness, likely only understood by those who know.

My dad took this picture of me on a very short walk around the neighborhood. I was about 18 weeks pregnant, and he had just had a gigantic tumor removed from inside his torso. We laughed about our mutual shortness of breath and inability to breeze up the slight hill. We talked about the opposing reasons for our shortness of breath, laughing out of the gallows humor we shared.

I captioned this picture "sunshiney" in the pregnancy photo album where I was storing all of the photos of my pregnancy. I hadn't seen it in a long time, until tonight, and I was instantly transported back to that warm afternoon under the pepper trees.

I took my dad out for one of his favorite meals: French Dip from an old school Jewish deli. He didn't have much of an appetite, and only ate about half the sandwich, and he later reported that it did not agree with his stomach, "but it was so worth it." This was the last time we hung out like this, and the way my dad looked at that sandwich and was willing to sacrifice gastrointestinal discomfort for a good sandwich tells me very obviously where I get my love of food.
My dad and me, hiking in Yosemite. I must have been just about one year old on this trip, but I just love how confident and happy my dad looks. Yosemite was one of his favorite places on the planet, and it's mine too.

This one I like just because Margie has recently, out of nowhere, started talking about Dumbo. One of her classmates went to Disneyland, I think, and shared a photo with the class, but she came home one day and started talking about Dumbo the elephant. And then we saw a photo from another friend's trip to Disneyland - it looks pretty similar to this one, actually. But I had forgotten about this picture of me and my dad until tonight - I took a photo of it when I was home for the funeral and looking through old photo albums. Family trips to Disneyland are some of my favorite memories...and even more than the trips themselves, the process of saving our quarters in my dad's desk drawer until we had enough for tickets (only $25 per person at the time).