audio rough cuts and first drafts
The Saturday morning after my father passed, Karen and I gathered our courage and our children into our family room and prepared ourselves to explain to Maddie and Jake what had happened with my dad.
We thought it best to share the story with them as soon as possible. The kids were already playing and waiting for breakfast when Karen and I decided to talk with them.Both of them I know, in small ways, had observed and checked our comings and goings throughout the week with mild curiosity and a bit of concern. All the while much of the true knowledge of our reality was buffered by cartoons and video games, and hanging with their grandparents.
We had shared bits of my dad’s health story, without much gravity, to this point- and often Maddie would ask ‘when is Poppa Pete coming home?’ The hope in her question always lifted me and crushed me at the same time.
I began slowly, and simply relating the events of the previous night. And as expected my tears welled up, Karen’s were falling down her face, Maddie’s sobs broke my heart into even smaller pieces, and Jake held my knee with such force that I thought for sure there would be bruising. Tissues, hugs, more tissues and then eye contact with Karen happened and we have this moment like ‘okay keep going you can do it’… so I did.
Returning to Maddie I check in ‘what are you thinking?’ Maddie is staring and nodding like she is doing a checklist in her head ‘that I’m sad’ she says. Heart crushed, I breathe in – is this even possible I thought? More tears, deeper hugs, and several tissues later. I check in with my son.
‘Jake…what are you thinking’ ‘…’ he holds my gaze but no words come. ‘Are you sad?’ he nods. Maddie’s sniffling draws his attention for a moment. He looks back at me with those amazing deep blue eyes…rimmed with tears. I say ‘it’s okay buddy, you can tell me what you’re thinking..’ ‘if you’re sad it’s good to talk’ Maddie adds. A smile moves across Jake’s face. ‘Can we have waffles now?’
I laughed and in that moment I heard my dad. Jake’s honest question was so in the moment, so perfectly timed that it wrapped up our heavy conversation with the childlike glee that only comes from having waffles. And as my son pumped his fist in the air at the thought of breakfast… I swear I hear my dad saying…‘I’m okay, you’ll be okay too.’
How to notice?
Funny, as I wrote that last line I wonder if I should put a question mark on it.
Regardless, the shapes of relationships are constantly on my mind right now.
I am a teacher and I support students and we are in virtual classrooms during the day, but what that means feels so loose.
Not being around people, or not accidentally bumping into people, or not seeing that dude around 8:15 AM every day having a smoke out on his front porch because life is not scheduled anymore is really squashing me.
My commute is now measured in flights of stairs or the distance between keyboard and kitchen. And what I want most right now is to see clearly the connections and complications that come from being around people.
In my empty head. I like to say your name when you’re not here. I feel it tighten in my chest as I pull you out of thin air. I remember when you used to say that it’s time that complicates you. I remember it like it was yesterday. Fill me in on all of your secrets. Tell me what you’re thinking.https://genius.com/Citizen-thin-air-lyrics
bend + expose + absorb
I think that this past year, like my front step, has slowly been sinking.
And the year, like my front step, has underlying conditions that are hidden from me.
Its remarkable how I am able to imagine purpose for the broken things around me. And in some ways I remain oblivious to the sinking feeling because of this.
And because there is a canyon of cloudfilled space between what I know and what I truly understand. I am trying to take in broad swaths of material that eventually I will review and try to decompose and deconstruct and likely reconstruct in the next year after the past year and a half.
My phone is full of photos.
Some are purposeful and some seemed purposeful at the the time but since time is no longer a reliable marker in my day, volume and assorted geotags serve as reminders of where I have been and maybe where I could return to sometime.
It’s funny when I consider the thousands of photos that I have taken in my iPhone’s lifetime, all with coded identifiers of place and time and memory, and so few of the places will I ever return to.
Despite the digital breadcrumbs that trace my travels I rarely circleback and return to the pictures or the sites where they were captured.
REsist + impede + annoint
Some things that I have noticed recently:
My front step has sunken. Nobody hates dandelions anymore. People wear masks while driving alone. Purple flowers outnumber humans 1 000 000:1. Taking a shower is a sign of hope. Children don't laugh and run and scream in the park. The longest takeout lines are mostly filled with lonely looking people. Though I barely drive my car, gas prices still piss me off. I feel this constant low vibe of nostalgia. Languish is the most beautiful sounding ugly word. & Last year the step was fine, this year not so much. I suspect that there are underlying issues here. Aren't there always?
Often my spouse will have worries. She will ask me- Do you worry about X? No? Why don’t you worry about X?
I don’t have a transferrable or translatable answer. Me saying ‘just because’ only confuses. But in truth I do not worry about anything that I do not have direct control over.
I can’t make that make sense outside of my head.
There is so much right now that I do not want control over.
behold + admit + comfort
When I need someone to express my thoughts and feels for me, I know that Andrea Gibson has already put pen to page and drafted out my mantras and mental medicine.
Returning to her writing is at best a meditative practice. At worst, it is that screaming hockey coach ensuring that I feel inadequate.
I often feel as if I could be the rough copy for her polished pieces.
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