Saturday, October 27, 2007

A letter to the past

Dear Dad,

It's coming on Christmas; they're cutting down trees. I can't believe that this is another holiday without you already. It's been two years, almost 3, and I guess I still haven't let you go. I try- I think to myself what a better place you're in, that you're out of pain, that you have nothing to worry about anymore. You were always such a worrier. Now you're surrounded by peace, and yet...

And yet when I heard about Granny last week, I immediately thought, "Has anyone told Dad yet?" only to realize in the same second that I can't call you.

And yet I still wonder what to get you for Christmas.

And yet I feel that deep gash every Thanksgiving, and remember those few years when we both felt like we finally experienced what family really is- with 17 of us around the dinner table, holding hands and saying grace, giving thanks for each other. You squeezed my hand when you said you were thankful for your family.

And yet I wonder sometimes when I'm watching t.v. what you're doing, wherever you are.

For so many years, we were the only family we had. On holidays, we made plans together and cooked each other's favorite dishes- I made you Italian Cream Cake and you made me chocolate pie. Over dinner you'd talk about work and I'd talk about school. But that was how it had always been- you and me, our only kin. For I don't know how many years (10? 15?), Tuesday night was our night to have tuna melts and fritos; our night to not cook and just chill and watch whatever it was we were into that year.

And when I went to college, I sometimes got so busy and had so much fun I forgot to miss you. But you never forgot to miss me, and we never missed holidays. And because I was away at school, you finally gave yourself permission to date. It was a tremendous relief for me to see you doing something for yourself, having fun again. You started to travel and do all the things you'd waited to do until I had moved on. What a good dad you always were. Then the day came when you asked me to meet her, and we were instant friends. Not too long after, you asked me if I'd approve of her being my stepmom. That was the happiest I'd ever seen you, and for ten years you glowed, like you'd finally found your joy. Like all those years of sacrificing for me had paid off.

And those ten years we found out together what a family really was. You always included me in that, with a step-brother and step-sister for the first time. We were all amazed how natural it felt. Suddenly, we were a family of 17, with aunts and uncles for the first time, with people we liked in large numbers. I don't think either of us missed those Thanksgivings and Christmases of 2.

It seems almost too good to be true, now. But I think of it and miss it still. The food, I guess, is what always brings me back to you. No one loved the food more than you, with you taking small little scoops and portions so that a sample of every single thing could fit on your plate. And afterward, you'd always say, "Let's take a nap," and we'd lay there on the bed and chat before the cat nap, just you and me, like old times. Like you were checking in on me, like you didn't want me to miss the times when it was just us.

I guess you know now that it's all over, that the step-family isn't a part of my life anymore. I miss them, but there's no use in trying to force them to want me there. And so now it's back to two people at the holidays, me and Bobby. You'd love him, Dad. He's so much like you. He's so wonderful and considerate just like you; he makes me laugh and we really make each other happy. And we do exactly like you and I once did, we take those days at the holidays to catch up and to really enjoy each other. We make sure the other one gets their favorite dish- he loves pumpkin pie with extra ginger. And we cat nap after dinner. It's great.

But I miss you still. I think of you when we bow our heads and I say I'm thankful for having such a wonderful family. And I pray that wherever you are, you are as happy as those last years, when you'd glow and smile as we'd all hold hands and say grace.

I love you,

Lori Pooh


Carver said...

Beautiful letter Lori.

Maybe I'll try that sometime. I'm also an adult orphan and starting to call disconnected lines is the hardest of all. You expressed it all so well. I may try a letter in my diary as it's been so much in my mind of late. I've had longer than you have to get used to it but I still get mail since my address was given as the forwarding address. The latest was an organization my dad contributed to and on the outside it said "We miss you Mr. S, please consider returning . . ." and I said out loud, me too and I wish he could.

As ever, Carver

faye said...

Joni Mitchell, huh? I didn't know you liked her, but how appropriate of a sound track for this special letter. Reminds me of the scene from You've Got Mail where Meg Ryan is unwrapping ornaments, missing her mom and quoting that same line, "It's coming on Christmas, they're cutting down trees."

Enjoyed reading some of your sacred memories with your dad, articulated here with soul and art. Pumpkin pie with extra ginger sounds like a rich painting on a blank canvas maybe you didn't know you had? Makes me wonder what blank canvasses are in all of our lives, that we don't even perceive. That's a wierd thing about life, for me at least...we don't know what we're going to lose, which remains unbelievably unsettling to me (inspite of my best Buddha efforts); and also, we never know what we're going to gain--what we didn't know we were missing. Pumpkin pie with extra ginger...the combination of intimacy and fear that only comes with classroom full of kids that take a piece of your heart home with them every day at 3...shared naps after dinner...dessert made just for you.

When people write posts like this, I feel humbled bc I've tried to live my life free of pain in so many ways that I'm touched by those who share what's still raw. It's something I find beauty in, but can find hard to do...Like painting, which I love to admire, which can bring tears to my eyes...and although I can paint some, for me, each stroke comes with a tinge of fear, "will this be okay?"... each stroke is it's own symphony of effort--and the painting that I was so afraid to paint is good for my soul, and part of my soul.

kim said...

Thank you Sweet Girl, for a glimpse into your life with such a loving dad. I could almost see the tears glistening on your eyelashes as you wrote about how he would love Bobby. Perhaps it is time to let go of the grief. Your dad will never be far from your memories and they are yours forever.
This is one of the loveliest pieces I have ever read. I can feel a transcendent smile rain down on you from above.
Love, S.A.
Take good care.

mlittle said...



Hilary said...

Hi Lori,

This is beautiful and very touching. It brought tears to my eyes. I am so sorry for your loss. My father died 16 years ago when I was 20 years old, and I still love and miss him. What I have learned through the years is that time does not heal all wounds, but it does dull the pain. With every passing year, it does get easier, but it still hurts, as you probably already know.

Keep writing letters and keep talking to him. (I still do to my Dad.) I truly believe that no one ever really dies, as long as they live on forever in our hearts.


surlyUrbanGal said...

you always were a wonderful writer... i envy that. thinking of you.


I'm Too Young For This!