Writing things down has always been the way I get problems, worries, conversations that weren't spoken, ideas, memories and other flotsam out of my head. I have never been unable to just pour my heart out and have the stuff in my head and heart just flow out and gain a little bit of peace. When I was first married, I wrote my new husband dozens of letters. He never read them, but they helped me sort out my homesickness, my fears over a blended family, and all sort of problems I was scared to talk about.
When my dad died, there was so incredibly much I wanted to say, that almost no words would come to mind. He was so big, so MUCH, and so incredibly dear that I couldn't put all of that in words. Instead, I have cycled through this weird state by listening to my favorite music. First lots of Christian music, then adding some of Dad's music in (which, to be honest, is most music - he really loved music) to see if I could tolerate hearing it. Sounds dramatic, but what can I say? Our music director at church told us during the funeral planning that lyrics would have a greater meaning now. He's not wrong.
Anyway, I was sitting here, having a normal day. Dentist, school, lunch - and my little girl puts on Ed Sheeran. Not music I associate with my dad in any way, really. But the lyrics had me in tears in seconds and all sorts of precious memories come flooding at me and I got scared that I would forget, or that my kids would not know the stories. So, I pull up my old blog that I haven't touched in years. I need to find a way to make sure they can keep this somehow.
One time, when I was 6 or so, we had a huge snowstorm. It might have been the blizzard of '77....but my dad and our next door neighbor built us a giant snow fort. It was HUGE and I honestly thought it must be just like an igloo. My dad's barely contained glee at any fun or adventurous thing is what I tend to remember most about any story - his grin when he sees your reaction.
Another time, I was in bed, supposed to be sleeping when I spotted the biggest, hairiest spider ever known to man. It was terrifying, so I screeched and screeched. Boo, in the twin bed next to mine, was just as terrified. We heard my dad's feet come pounding up the stairs, with Mom close on his heels. As we pointed out the terrible spider, he dissolved into laughter, showing us the big fuzzy ball that must've come up with the laundry. He chuckled, and co-co bopped us on the head, turning terror into a solid memory.
Speaking of memories, one of my absolute favorite memories is walking with Dad on the beach at Assateague. We were just walking along, getting our feet wet. We came across a horseshoe crab on it's back, it's legs out, waving around. Dad just flipped him over and put him near the water. This little thing just made me wish that Assateague could last forever, and I told him so. So Dad says to me, "You know how to make a memory, right? How to keep it forever?" We sat down and Dad said, " You just look around. Memorize what you see. Then the things you can smell. Then what you can hear. Freeze the moment in your mind so you can go back to it whenever you want." I've done this hundreds of times in my life since that moment. Maybe thousands of times. I'd be tempted to say that this was no big deal to Dad, but he was sentimental. He'd gather good memories and hold them close. Family dinners, big events, little tiny moments that no one else noticed but he recognized as significant...he was freezing those moments and keeping them. I'm so grateful that he taught me how to stop and take everything in, and hold it close. I had the sense even as a little kid that this would be an important skill to have and to now have several of these memories, last moments with my dad, held tight in my memory....
We have this weird phenomenon when people die...we try to paint them in this perfect light. I'd rather remember how people actually were - flaws and all. My dad wasn't perfect, but he was just. He was infinitely kind. He loved with all he had. He was good to people he knew weren't going to be good back. There are so many more things I want my kids to know or remember about my dad. This isn't even near the start of them, but it was just driving me crazy that I couldn't put into words anything about him. It was just plain rude. I have never had a problem pouring my feelings out on paper before. Something about it all was just so much more than I had the capacity to deal with... and yeah, I know, that sounds dramatic. But ya know what? Death is dramatic. He left this giant hole. I mean, I wanted to call him about stupid plants in my front yard the other day but HE'S NOT GONNA ANSWER THE PHONE. Chances are he would've told me to take a picture down to the plant store on 30th and ask those guys, but still.
So, if my old, old, old blog suddenly pops up in your feed and you are annoyed at a 50 year old woman still being shocked that her dad died and is still mad about it, or sad or whatever is going on in my head on any particular day, please excuse me and go on about your business...I'm just over here processing because it still feels like a tragedy. I know, dramatic. but, I don't bother with lies. It just feels that way.