Sunday, October 26, 2014

Fall will always feel like a bittersweet time for me. As the leaves change, the temperatures cool and I wrap myself in corduroy and sweaters I feel a certain kind of peace I don't often feel, bringing me toward deep breaths and toward feeling most like myself. The cool air is refreshing in a way that humid air just can't match and I feel a pull to slow down even more, to craft, create, bake and explore. Grocery runs can be made without worry about things ruining if I don't pack a cooler and don't want to return home right away. Fires are made in pits and clothes left smelling like camping. Jackets are pulled out and fill the rack by the door, but a certain sadness also fills my heart as all of these pleasures make their way in. 

As the air cools and the leaves begin to change I am pulled back to an October five years ago, recalling a phone call, tears, a hurried drive toward a hospital through a torrential down-pour that just wouldn't let up. As the clouds shifted above I moved in a cloud of my own, one of disbelief, of confusion, of anger, of doubt. When we arrived my hand held his - unresponsive - my face in a perpetual state of redness and eyes pooled with tears, leaving his side to make room for others but quickly filling that space again when nobody else moved forward. The colostomy bag let off a smell that made me feel guilty for not wanting to be near it, so now and then I would turn my head for a breath of fresh air all the while machines forced fresh air into his lungs as well, the background to my whispered pleading for him to please wake up, to please show us a sign, the artificial filling of his lungs to provide him with the oxygen to sustain slowly whooshing in and out, in and out, in and out, the very thing which he lacked for too many minutes, the lack of which left us all here, gathered around him and helpless. Wires were attached, tests performed, poking and talking mixed with my silent begging for all of this to end, for all of this to just be another hurdle to overcome, another thing to just make us all stronger and something that would open his eyes to the changes that needed to be made. His eyes though, they would not open no matter how hard my guts were twisting with pleas, so we waited and waited and waited some more.

Later I had my first and last moments alone with him in order to say goodbye, but even as I did - the organ harvesters waiting not-so-patiently in the wings - I struggled to believe he would not at last open his eyes and give us all a surprise ending I was so desperately hoping for so I continued to beg in whispers and hope until I thought my body would explode with the pressure of such emotion, but in the end it was the end and there was nothing I could do. The next days continued in a haze of which I only remember certain details - the questioning of what truly happened, the forced hugs, the misunderstandings, the umbrellas, the pizza in a town where I no longer felt welcome, my recording his last voicemail so as to not lose the sound of his voice, the familiar sights passing by as my head rested on the window, the country air on my cheeks and cows grazing in Uncle John's fields, the knowing this would be the last time I would for sure be back in that place, the heartbreaking trips down memory lane. When we pulled away from the small cemetery, leaving my father, grandmother and great-grandparents there in dust sent up from tires on gravel I tried to look back, tried to see them lower him in to the ground for the closure, but I did not receive it and with a four hour round trip I am not sure when I will.

Now we continue on as you do and it doesn't get easier. For some people it may, but I no longer believe it ever will. I don't think a day will come when a stranger in my rearview mirror reminds me of my dad and my eyes don't swell with tears. I don't think a day will come when the scent of cigarettes and old spice don't make me think of him and the bear hugs he gave best. I will always credit my loves of nature and of treasure hunting to him and I will always think of him when I see a freshly plowed field ripe for an arrowhead hunt. I no longer blame anyone else for what happened, time has provided clarity on that if nothing else. Addiction is strong, it is stronger than any bear hug I have met, stronger than the harshest of storms and unfortunately it is stronger than my dad was and will ever get a chance to be. While it's not the way I wish things were it is a reality I live with and one I have and will continue to learn from with each passing year. So as the leaves fall and the seasons change I continue to move forward, constantly trying to live the life I have imagined and practice gratitude for something each day even on the hard ones. I love my daughter with all I have and try to find forgiveness and understanding when it is not so easy to come by because I now know that some second chances are over way too quickly and every story must eventually come to an end.



  1. Thank you friend. It feels (mostly) good to finally write a bit more.