Four Years

Grief is:

  • Sleeping for 11 hours straight and waking up exhausted
  • Eating a box of Girl Scout cookies in one sitting
  • Finding a Christmas gift tag you wrote years ago (to someone else) and not being able to toss it out
  • Crying for days before the anniversary of your death
  • Having conversations with you, asking for advice
  • Doing the NYT Mini and wishing we were solving it together
  • Waffling over the simplest of decisions
  • Working on projects around the house and wishing you were here to give guidance
  • A tower of wet, crumpled Kleenex beside my bedside

It’s been four years since we said goodbye. That moment feels like so long ago, and simultaneously it feels like it was yesterday. I am so grateful for every moment that we spent together, and so sad we don’t have more moments to have in the future. When friends talk about moments with their dads, I feel a pang of jealousy. On days when I need to feel you close by, I drink out of the Wachovia coffee cup that you had when you worked there over 40 years ago. It’s not a great cup, but I find comfort knowing that your hands once held it as I’m holding it now. 

Here are the things I want you to know:

Mom’s health is declining, and I’m keeping my promise to you. I’m taking care of her as well as I can. She rarely remembers anything past the present moment, but I honestly believe she’s happy when we’re together. She loves to eat ice cream, and occasionally I’ll have a cup of butter pecan in memory of you. We ride through the country and listen to the playlist that you and I made together, when she was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and you saw an article that music could help stimulate memories in Alzheimer’s patients. Her favorite songs are Amazing Grace (which she insisted we play twice at your memorial service), Peace in the Valley, and It’s Hard to be Humble. I’m not sure how that last one made the list, but I remember it was one of your favorites, too. We sang along (loudly and out of tune) on the way up to the cabin. Mom still remembers some of the words, which amazes me. We still sing out of tune.

My friends from Bogota were here visiting over the weekend. We had such a good time and I wish they could have stayed longer. They helped me rearrange some furniture so I can get my sewing room set up. I wish you could see the house where I live now (and where Mom lived also). I think you’d really like it. It’s different from the house on Woodward, but has the same cozy feel. This is the first place I’ve lived that you never visited. Although, you’re kind of here; your ashes are in a corner in my office. You were adamant that you wanted to be cremated, but didn’t share what should be done with your ashes. I’m kind of mad about that, Dad. Why didn’t you articulate that last bit? I feel like I should do something, but nothing seems right. So for now, you’re across from my desk. 

It’s finally warming up here in Asheville. I ordered a bunch of gold, pink, and red chrysanthemums to plant in the garden. I so wish you were here to help with the planting. When I think of gardens, I think of the time that you and Mom and Ashley went to the cabin and left me at home. I wanted to be helpful, so I worked in the garden all day. I pulled weeds from in between the rows of vegetables, then decided to “clean up” the wild raspberries. I clipped and clipped and clipped, until I was sure I had cut back all the weeds. When y’all arrived back home, I remember Mom screaming and not speaking to me (for a long time), and you gently requesting that I not work in the garden without your assistance. In my attempt to clean up the vines, I had inadvertently cut back all the new growth and pretty much decimated that year’s crop. You never yelled, which really surprises me now. I did a lot of things that warranted yelling. 

Work’s going well. It’s really busy, and we’ve started traveling again. So far this year I’ve traveled to Vienna, Glasgow, Madrid, Cape Town, London, and Zion, Utah. While I was in Vienna, I walked to the Belvedere Museum, where we went for yours and Mom’s 50th wedding anniversary. I remember how we marveled at the grounds, and delighted in the coldness, with snow all around. And stood in awe for what seemed like an eternity, examining every aspect of Klimt’s paintings, as others passed by. That was a magical day, wasn’t it?

I miss you, Dad. Even though we had 50 years together, I wish it were longer. I really miss you.

2 thoughts on “Four Years

  1. Oh Lori,
    You always write in a way that makes us think, “Oh, that’s like when my dad (mom) and I did (this). You tug at my heart and remind me to remember them in all the wonderful ways that they left their mark on me.

    You’ve been traveling a lot! I’m about to be in Barcelona, the Basque country, and the south of France (a writers’ retreat at a chateau!) Just had to mention it because ‘you never know’ – if you’re in the area over the next few weeks, it would be a kick to get together!

    • Jackie! A writers’ retreat at a chateau?!? What a dream! I won’t be in either of those areas in the near future, but I have no doubt that our paths will cross soon. Sending you love. xoxo

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