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. 
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