Here I Am.
It's been several months now and I've been all but silent. I know it's not entirely unusual for me to fall quiet while I pick myself up out of the occasional funk... but this goes well beyond that. Slowly but surely, I've been finding my footing again and rediscovering the motivation to carry on doing the things I find joy in. However, I haven't been posting because I thought this entry should come first, and I've been racking my brain trying to figure out how to write it. (This should sound familiar by now.)
It's as if I've been sitting around waiting for the right words to hit me and instead, I'm realizing that they don't exist. So, here I am, trying to make the best of my limited vocabulary, attempting to summarize something impossible to grasp. Writing out and making sense of my own thoughts usually provides a sense of respite from grief... but this time, "making sense of things" meant admitting that what happened was real, and it has been an especially hard reality to accept.
I said it the last time I wrote an entry like this... but I hesitate with posting these kinds of things so publicly. Maybe it's too personal. Maybe I'm being too transparent. But the truth is, no matter what my reservations may be, I don't feel right not writing this and putting it off has made my life feel all the more disorderly. So, here it is:
On the morning of February 22, my father passed away suddenly after going to the hospital for a somewhat routine procedure. When speaking to my mother that morning, she sounded optimistic and unconcerned. Yet, merely an hour later, I was dropping everything, spurred to the hospital by a different, more frantic phone call. Until then, no one had been especially concerned, fully expecting him to be home that evening and back to his old self. Nothing could have prepared us, and I denied the very worst to myself until the moment I arrived at his room, fifteen minutes too late. He was already gone, and no one got to say goodbye.
In the ensuing months, everything has changed. I've since moved back to my childhood home and the surrealness of his absence is now cemented into my every day existence. I think back on that day in the hospital through a fog, like I'm remembering a bad dream. And no matter how many days pass by without him, it never truly sinks in that he's really gone. As if any minute he'll walk in and pick up where he left off.
He had always been such a strong, dependable presence in my life, and I guess I thought he would be around forever. He was someone I could count on, someone always willing to help however he could and someone who was always ready to offer encouragement.
As children, it's difficult to see your parents as anything other than parents and it's especially hard to recognize their humanity, or the sacrifices they make. It wasn't until I found my own way as an adult that I started to understand and fully appreciate how many dimensions my father possessed. By trade, he was a contractor and no stranger to hard work. He came off as a man's man, an authority figure, a lover of guns and tools, and someone you didn't want to argue with or cross.
Of course, the truth is always a lot more complicated.
My Dad worked hard and tirelessly for what he had and did what he needed to do for his family. But there was always this encompassing love for making things. He was a man who collected, compiled ideas, and talked about dreams. Overall, he preferred to play music and create art and he surrounded himself with testaments to a vast array of passions and hobbies. He was a damn good musician and song writer and I grew up with his music as a constant, whether it was a soft acoustic rift drifting down the hallway or an all-out jam session with his friends and fellow band mates. In fact, he loved music and guitars so much, he not only had an expanding collection of them to play, he started building them from scratch - right down to the tiny, intricate design of the rosette.
He was also an incredible visual artist - he could paint anything from sweeping landscapes, to portraits, to (very) unusual abstracts. He liked to focus on making things with his hands, wasn't interested in keeping up with the latest technology, and despite anything to the contrary, he seemed to have an affinity for intricate and beautiful things. In his studio and workshop, one could find growing collections of small trinkets, figurines and seashells, gathered around him like a museum of found objects. He found joy in the small things: like the look of a dilapidated home, or the way snow collected on a street sign. There was an unmistakable appreciation for detail, and it was an appreciation that spilled into the things he made, or the hobbies he entertained.
I have him to thank for my ravenous love for art and music (even if I'm too shy to actually play anything in front of people...) and even through all of my childhood fickleness, he was always there to encourage anything I aspired to be. Even if the phases were outlandish, brief and ever-changing, I think he knew the importance of supporting a creative mind. I have always - and will always - appreciate him for helping me lead a much more colorful life.
These days, it's hard not to keep my thoughts from wandering into dark places, and it's hard to convince myself not to feel guilty or regretful for things left undone. Focusing on the positives in a time like this can feel next to impossible... but I try on a daily basis not to stay rooted in the what-ifs or the should-haves. Instead, I try to remind myself of how good our relationship was, how thankful I am that he was there to walk me down the aisle, and to remind myself of the things I loved about him - his bizarre sense of humor, the things he created, and his uncanny ability to pick up a new hobby and run with it. (It's also entirely his fault that I'm addicted to sushi.) Sometimes, I imagine what he would say if I apologized for anything, or was able to express my regrets to him. I'm almost sure he'd tell me, "Don't worry about it, kiddo!" and that would be that.
And, as what seems to be customary... no matter how much I write, or how long I've pondered this entry, it always feels incomplete, not good enough, thoughtful enough or meaningful enough. There's a lifetime of words, things to remember and things to appreciate. But no matter how imperfect the end result may be, I wanted to write this so I could at last get these feelings off my chest, and to proclaim to my modest gathering of readers my love and admiration for my father. I miss him every day and I encourage all of you to hold tight to your loved ones while you still have them and always try to live your life without regrets. Even when life gets hectic and we forget ourselves, try to take a step back and find perspective. Remind yourself to live gently, be kind to each other and always remember what's important.