I am a writer. I love to write. I’ve always loved to write. I love to tell stories. I want to preserve and remember everything. It’s who I am.
A week ago my father died. His health has been poor the past few years, but this was still unexpected. I am so sad he is gone. I am so sad that I didn’t get to say goodbye to him. I would give anything to be able to give him a hug and just sit and talk with him. I am going to miss him so much.
Last Wednesday my sister called to tell me that Dad was dead. I cried. My husband walked in the door just as I was hanging up the phone and I ran to him, shaking, I could barely get the words out I was sobbing so hard. And then I went upstairs and finished helping my three year old into her pajamas, which is what I had been doing when the phone rang. I guess I could have sent my husband upstairs while I collapsed in a puddle somewhere, but I didn’t know what to do with myself, so I just went back to what I had been doing. I couldn’t stop crying. My daughter of course saw the tears and asked me what was wrong and part of me thought of putting off telling her, but instead I just blurted it out and she said, “Oh, no, but Pipi is my best friend! He can’t die!” I don’t remember what I said to her; all the cliche things about being sad, and it’s ok to be sad and mommy is very sad right now, and yes the reason I am sad is that Pipi was my daddy and yes my daddy is dead. And then I went downstairs and had much the same conversation with my six year old, who had overheard me talking to her father and popped out of bed to ask what was wrong.
Once they were both consoled and kissed and tucked in for the night, I stood there for a moment wondering what the heck to do with myself and realized that all I wanted to do was go hole up in the computer room and write. I had a holiday gift guide to work on, which was already running behind. My plan for the evening had been to sit down and turn out two gift guide pages, minimum. And now on top of that I felt like writing about the last time I saw my dad.
My husband thought I was nuts. I mean by the time I was done putting the girls to bed he had already called his work and confirmed how many days he would have off. “You don’t need to work. People will understand. Your Dad just died. You have a really great excuse not to work, why not take advantage of it?” My husband simply couldn’t understand that I would want to work. That I would do it, not just because I felt compelled to by deadlines, but because it’s something I enjoy doing, and that I could think of no better distraction. At his suggestion I set an Out of Office notice on my email and stepped away from the computer. I told him I needed something to do, I told him that I felt like playing a board game and so we spent the night sitting at the dining room table playing cards.
The next few days are a blur of time spent with family; making arrangements, talking, crying, tidying, sorting, going through photos. In the end I was glad I had followed my husband’s suggestion and set that Out of Office notice on my email, because I was simply too busy to be sitting at the computer. But in my secret heart I did have the thought once or twice that the thing I would like to be doing most and best is just locking myself away in the computer room.
The last time I saw my Dad, he had been having trouble keeping food down and he said, “Don’t come too close and don’t hug me, I think I have some kind of stomach flu.” I didn’t think he had the flu, but I didn’t want to argue with him, so I stayed back. We sat and talked for a short while. I told him a silly story about getting passport photos taken for the girls. I could hear the kids tearing around upstairs and I was painfully aware that my mom wasn’t home to keep an eye on them. He told me about how the cat had taken a liking to his glucose meter. He bragged about the beard he was growing for Christmas. He knew it annoyed my mom, and her annoyance amused him. I told him, “You be good!” and he said “You be good.” That was the last thing he ever said to me. “You be good.”
I’m not sure what I want to say in this post. That my Dad died? That I am sad, beyond sad? That I like to sit and write? I share so much of my life here, that it felt wrong not to post something. It felt awkward to say nothing, but it felt equally awkward to say, “Sorry, I’ve been offline the past few days dealing with family obligations.” or some other formula statement.
At some point over the past few days it struck me. Somewhere between grief, between fumbling to explain my chosen profession to dozens of distant relations, and contemplating my intense urge on the very night my Dad died to just sit and write, it occurred to me, that I am indeed a writer. That thing I wanted to do when I grew up, I’m doing it now. This is who I am. I want to preserve and remember everything. I love to tell stories. I love to write. I am a writer.
And I miss you Dad.