The Dash Between Two Dates


There is no “celebration of life” page on Facebook, no memorial page, no announcement. There is no obituary, no epitaph, no great list of accomplishments.

There was a feeling that led to a search, a discovery of his death ten days after it happened, a phone call from brother to sister.

“I need you to pay attention.”

“I can pay attention while I’m driving. I have somewhere I need to be.”

“I have to tell you something.”

“I’m listening.”

“Fine…(sigh)…Dad died.”

No tears, no emotion. He could have easily said “I’m having pizza for dinner” or “storm’s rolling in” and received the same response. The discussion of how & when & where continued until I reached my destination.

Dad is gone, but that’s nothing new. He’s been out of our lives for over twenty years, and was barely in our lives to begin with. It’s impossible to grieve the absence of a presence barely felt. It’s difficult to grieve if there is no love, and there is no love. Not anymore. That died years ago, and the grief is long forgotten.

I am sad, though. Sad that a man’s life could be reduced to just a dash between two dates. Sad that the other daughter couldn’t write an obituary for him. She wrote nothing, and that says a lot, considering that he actually was a constant presence in her life. I don’t know her, or what their life was like after our final correspondence, but the lack of obituary is, well, sad. Like real life Ebenezer Scrooge sad. It doesn’t sit well with me, but since I won’t know why she didn’t write one, I’ll have to let that go. No sense in wasting any more time wondering why or what if. I did enough of that when I was a kid.

Sometimes we don’t get the answers we need.

It’s best to make peace with that fact as quickly as possible.

So there it is. My father is dead, and though I’ll never fully forget the feeling of being treated like an afterthought, I choose to instead focus on the little I remember of his fleeting presence:

He smelled like Old Spice & sawdust, and he always had change in his pocket that jangled when he walked.

 

 

 

She Died Today


She died today.

On the day I woke

already a lump in my throat,

obstacles to face,

dragons to slay.

She died today.

She taught me to be a Phenomenal Woman,

she taught me why the Caged Bird sings.

She died on the day I fiercely needed

to be reminded of such things.

Two tears I shed at work,

Then wept later in the shower.

I wonder if she knew the gift she gave,

the gift to me of power.

I know her voice,

I see her words

Graffitied all over each page.

A whisper, a shout,

“Go, girl, let yourself out of that cage.”

“Lift up your eyes upon.

This day breaking for you.

Give birth again.

To the dream.”

She died today.

I will listen.

I will live.