every day is a journey

On good days it feels normal, as if he's somewhere else: at the doctor, visiting his sister, sleeping in. I can't feel his absence. On bad days, it's more noticeable.

Our relationship was ever-evolving. He was a fixture, a constant, a confidante, a friend, a father. We shared ideas over conversation, sometimes dissecting deep thinking that almost always spurred into argumentative discussions--Dad and I had opposing school of thoughts.  It was like that since I was young. It would start at the dinner table over dessert and coffee, migrate to the sofa during TV time, the mad crazy emotionally charged debates. I don't know how my mom survived them. I guess it's just something we Italians do, our own version of a cardio workout.

Silence. 8am on a Saturday is quiet, that is normal. Later after I've had coffee and breakfast, I'll unconsciously be listening for the shuffling of feet, the murmuring white noise of a radio talk show host, the running of water. I know none of it will come, and yet I still wish for it.

Sleep comes easy, and I fall back asleep this time on the couch. At 11am I stir to the sound of cicadas and ghost noises. The house conjured them in my waking cycle, and they are almost real. Startling how the senses are adept at translation.


wistfully yours

I've been through this once before. The first time I was younger, naive and immature. Even though mom was diagnosed with a terminal illness, I wasn't prepared to let go of her, let alone get used to the idea of her not being here. We had almost a year and it just wasn't enough time. Thirteen years later, older, slightly wiser, more mature I was just getting used to (and coming to terms with) the idea of dad getting older and slowing down. My mind was compartmentalizing his gradual deterioration and wrapping itself around the possibilities of how we would take care of him when he slowed down to a snail's pace. Everything happened so quickly, so fast. It didn't occur to me that he would injure himself and then stop. Stop. It's such a final word, and it finds me ill prepared for this act of letting go, again.

We just passed the three week mark, next Tuesday will mark a month. Thirty days. Seven-hundred and thirty hours. Too many seconds to contemplate. It hurts my head if I think about it too much. I find myself watching marathon hours of TV--a shocker for those of you who know me (once upon a time I didn't have TV let alone cable); reading a lot, mostly books, magazines, news articles on my iPad and my Twitter feed (I'm not sure why but I've become mildly obsessed with scouring through posts, tweeting and retweeting) and when I can sleeping, I alternate between an obscene number of shut-eye or none at all.

This weekend I was down at the shore celebrating my niece's birthday with family. The weather blue skies and climate temperate foe all day swimming in the saltwater pool, and the children (and their friends) took full advantage, splashing and dashing around the backyard. A full day outdoors calls for a slumber worthy of kings and queens but instead I found myself restless and tormented by nightmares, the kind that grip your heart tight enough to force you awake.  I was sharing a room with my nephew in the blue and white room, facing Main Avenue. The sounds of the passing traffic ultimately lulled me to sleep.

I woke in the morning to a rambunctious symphony of voices and made my way down to the kitchen. Assigned party duties, we each played our part in the party preparation and then lazily made our way back to poolside with sunscreen and towels and a side order of books in tow.  The day unfurled as family and friends made their way to the house to chat and play, swim and soak up the sun, and commemorate summer the old fashioned way with a pool party and BBQ. It was whimsically fun.

It would have been even lovelier if Dad were there, as my nephew Christopher pointed out. Dad surely would have been pleased with the weather and enjoyed the festivities, from the sunshine to the artisanal hand-packed ice cream from Hoffman's to the tasting of Italian wine recently acquired by my brother's brother in law, Danny.  And he would have certainly cheered, if not participated in the multi-generational game of corn hole being played poolside by my nephew (his grandson), Uncle Dom (dad's brother) and his two adult grandsons (our cousins), Chris and John. That scene made me sad, wistful.

And I should have known that the ride home would do me in; I curse my unconscious for failing to trigger some sort of warning, do not drive back late by yourself. As I sat in traffic on the Garden State it was hard not to remember the last time I drove this way Dad was in the seat next to me, half awake, half asleep, talking about nothing, or something about politics. Estimating the time based on how far we've traveled, guesstimating the time of day by the position of the moon and the light in the night sky. He was almost always dead on too, which of course in its own special way drove me mildly crazy and insane.

All those things we take for granted when they are here; are the nuances that we first begin to miss when their voices are no longer of this earth. 


inexplicable grief

Life is unpredictable.  One minute you're discussing the possibility and probability of rain or recollecting someone based on the color of their hair and in the next minute you're in a fog, trying to remember what day it is and the last time the weather was so beautiful it brought you to tears.

Today is one of those days. It is cool and crisp, leaning toward the end of summer, a sunny Wednesday in August. Three weeks shy of Labor Day. It is a day where Dad would have been obnoxiously alert and chipper, a day where the radio would have piqued at 7AM and the shuffling of his feet on the staircase would have had a rhythm, one part rumba one part stroll. It may have included a knock on the door, a good morning greeting with an offering of bananas. When he had energy it was contagious, and when he didn't the house seemed to creak with its heaviness.

This day is halfway good, halfway bad. The sunshine is refreshing, the air vitalizing but my head is foggy still. It's only been two weeks since the fall, twelve days since the day, possibly the saddest I will know this decade. I know we're only three years in but right now that's what it feels like to me. There seems to be one every ten years, whether that's purposeful or not I don't know. 

Loss happens to everyone. And the grief which affects the saddest people and the happiest of people, attacks silently. Unnoticeably at first, it's expected in unexpected ways; one never knows what will be the trigger. And like a phantom itch grazing against the nerve endings of our heart, lightly touching our soul, it is both intangible and inexplicable.