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Blather Daddy Insomnia My Heart Hurts Nostalgia

Letter To Be Launched Into The Ether (#1)

Dear Dad,

It snowed Sunday night, and Monday morning it looked like the island had been coated with sugar. I almost picked up the phone to call you, and tell you how beautiful it was. Of course, I’d have eventually started complaining about the fact that it would all be slush in a matter of hours. Today it rained–miserable, graceless weather, spitting cold from the sky like bullets. It was fitting, I suppose, as I haven’t felt this bad in months. Too much wine and an hours-long crying jag do not make for a pleasant morning after (big surprise).

I’ve started playing Milles Bornes again. I found a set at the Edgartown Thrift Shop for two dollars; it was the old style with the ugly box, but the cards inside were practically brand new. Games make the winter go a little bit smoother–something to do other than watch television. I miss playing Scrabble with you, even though you did accuse me of cheating when I finally beat you a few Christmases back. On some subconscious level, it feels sometimes like you’re just sitting in your little house in West Wareham, building a model truck, talking to the cat, waiting for the weather to break so you can go out and work in your shop; waiting for me to come visit so we can play Scrabble or stay up until two in the morning talking about trips we’re going to take someday.

I don’t know what to do with your house, or your shop, or your truck. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel alright about any decision I make. In order to rent the house I need to fix it up, but if I change anything, it won’t feel like you’re there anymore. I’m afraid to rent the shop with all of your tools in it because I don’t want anyone to damage them up or hurt themselves, but I know if I sell the tools, I’m going against your wishes, and I don’t want to do that. Really, I don’t want to do anything to any of it. I want to crawl up into the sleeper of the truck with a blanket and a pillow and go to sleep until you come back.

I was thinking this afternoon about the ugly yellow chair in the living room of the house we lived in at the boat yard when I was a kid, and how sometimes when I felt lonely or sad I’d bring my blankets out into the living room and sleep in that hideous recliner so that I was close enough to hear you snore, because for some reason it made me feel better. I remember sitting sideways in the chair to watch TV, with my legs thrown over the arms of it, and how every once in a while if I sat in the chair and held onto the antenna of the TV, Fox would come in clearly and I could watch Beverly Hills, 90210. You’d be sitting up in bed reading, and every once in a while you’d mock one of the characters, or throw a jelly bean at me, and tell me how ridiculous I looked sitting there with my hand up in the air, not moving for fear of losing the signal.

I was remembering, too, the day I went to foster care off-island, and the look of hurt in your eyes when you watched me walk up the ramp of the boat. How badly I wanted to run down the ramp and get back in your little truck and go home. But there was no going home, not for a while. All of that time spent in limbo, not knowing where I belonged–and for nothing. Because of worriers and busybodies who thought for some reason that it would be a good idea to take a motherless, confused teenager away from the person who loved her most in the world, and send her to live with strangers. I didn’t belong with strangers, I belonged with you.

My world doesn’t make sense without you in it. Some days I feel like I failed you–like if I’d badgered the doctors a little bit more, or gone to live with you and take care of you, or left work sooner that terrible Friday… but I know it’s just the emptiness making me feel that way. It’s a lot easier to reconcile something like heartbreak or death if you can convince yourself there was a reason, or that someone is to blame. It just doesn’t make any sense to think that the forces that be decided to take you so quickly, and so young, for no reason at all.

I think the hardest part of this is that you’re the person I always used to call when I felt this lonely or sad. Just hearing your voice would make me feel better, and there’s no hug in the world that could heal the way yours could. I remember how I buried my head in your chest when mom died, and sobbed until I was exhausted enough to sleep. I wish I could do that now. I feel like someone has tied an anvil to my ribs and dropped it off of a bridge.

I guess what I’m trying to say is I miss you. And it hurts. I finally feel it, and it fucking hurts.

Categories
Daddy

Memorial Service

Several people have mentioned wanting to send flowers to my Dad’s memorial service, and have asked for the details. Here they are:

Memorial Service for John E. Holmes
Sunday, January 20 at 3:00 p.m.
Portuguese-American Club/Holy Ghost Association
Vineyard Ave, Oak Bluffs MA, 02557.

Thank you all for your caring and kindness,
S.

Categories
Blather Daddy Family My Heart Hurts Nostalgia People

The Heavy Heavy Hurt

It’s never the things that you think will make you cry that actually bring the tears. It’s always something stupid like broken plans, or a parking ticket. For the past month and a half, I have been carrying around a load of hurt so heavy that I feel like if I try to put it down, it will crush me. I don’t often cry these days; in fact I think I cry less than I did before. And when I do cry, it’s not about that heavy, heavy hurt. It’s about the disappointment of not being able to move into my new place early, or a stupid comment from a coworker. Once the tears start coming, though, it’s all about Dad, and it comes from somewhere so deep in my guts that it actually feels like it’s being yanked out of me.

This week, there’s been a little of mom, too. Tonight I was recounting to a friend one of my favorite memories of my mother. We were driving in her old black MG (red leather interior), and she had on a flowy head scarf and big sunglasses–the same ones she was wearing in the one picture I have of my parents happy together. We were on a dirt road in Edgartown, going to visit Jim Blaine, her boyfriend at the time, who lived out in the boonies and looked a lot like my dad. It was hot summer, and I was five or so and probably barefoot, and the radio was on loud playing Tina Turner’s “Private Dancer,” and my mom was singing along. I don’t know what we did after we got there, and I don’t think it much matters, because the drive itself was obviously more memorable.

I didn’t realize at first that Wednesday was my mother’s anniversary. I woke up that day in a funk, something more than what I’ve been feeling. I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t. My best friend was in a funk, too, and she couldn’t explain it either. We laid on the floor in her basement apartment and didn’t really talk to each other for an hour. Then we bought pets to cheer ourselves up, but it didn’t last long. I had hoped to hang out with another friend that evening, but they had other plans, and when I snapped my phone shut from reading the message, I burst into tears. The first four or five tears were probably about disappointment, but the rest were about, to quote an old poem, the empty spot that’s so big I should give it a name, and address, an area code. I should have my mail forwarded there.

The next morning I was having coffee with my sister, who it turned out had had an equally horrible Wednesday. At one point, she turned to me in the car and said, “You know what yesterday was, don’t you?” And then the heavy icky feeling and the sensitivity and the piles of tears made sense. On some subconscious level, I think I had known. And for the first time, I was feeling the loss of them both–at the same time.

I cried today, too. This time it started with a mild case of the cold shoulder, and ended with a crying jag in my best friend’s shop that lasted half an hour and somehow ended with me designing a T-shirt in memory of my father and laughing about how funny he would have found it. After I let the big guns out, I didn’t care so much about the brushoff anymore. It was like I’d somehow been recalibrated. I almost wanted to thank the offender for helping me to cry. I’m tempted to contract people to hurt my feelings in some small way once a day, so I can get this heavy hurt off my back faster.

I haven’t felt like myself the past few days. I’ve felt completely uncomfortable in my body, and in my life. Not unhappy with either, just uncomfortable, like shoes that haven’t been broken in yet. I need to break in my new life. I need to take pictures with my new camera and cook dinner in my new apartment, and bring home the first paycheck from one of my two new jobs. I need to remind myself that if something won’t matter a week from now, it’s probably not worth getting upset about now. I need to speak at my father’s memorial service if I can hold it together long enough, and I need to go through his closet and find an old sweatshirt that I can wear when I’m down and keep until it falls apart from wear. I need to start believing that he’s gone. And I need to cry about it.