Sunday, April 02, 2006

Long Time Gone

Some people have implied that five weeks between blog posts is extreme. Maybe they're right. Maybe they'll regret nudging me if they read this one.

Yesterday marked the 26th anniversary of my dad's death. The thing about a profound loss is, no anniversary is the same as the one before. They're unpredictable. Some years I've barely thought about it -- just a sweet memory on April 1, a smile, a sigh. Other years I've practically taken to my bed because the grief overwhelmed me. This year was something in the middle.

Wednesday night at my Rosen bodywork session, my dear bodyworker asked me "How do you feel about death?" Good grief! How could she know she was tapping the raging waters of April 1?! The grief of years came pouring out. I think Ms. Bodyworker grabs a few extra boxes of tissues when she sees my name on her calendar. I'm a crier.

The grief of 2006 seems to be as much (or more) about the loss of family as the loss of my dad. After all, he's been dead for over half my life now. I've lived without him for longer than I lived with him. He died when I was only 21. The family we had before his death -- visits, phone calls, celebrations -- began to disintegrate the year he died. Now that both of his sisters are also dead, there's essentially no family there. We're a bunch of cousins, sisters and brothers (and one mother) who very rarely see each other, virtually never call and for the most part are not connected to each other's lives. It used to be so different. That's the thing I miss this year.

I've also been thinking a lot about the year that followed Dad's death. At 21, I had no idea how to handle such a huge loss. I was completely unprepared. And no one was available to guide me through it. Or if they were, I didn't find them. Instead I took refuge in the things that were at hand: Alcohol and men who were completely wrong for me. It worked for a while, in some ways. I was distracted enough to keep moving through my brand new adulthood without needing too much from anyone. That's a pattern I wish I hadn't established back then and one it's taken a lot of years to begin to unlearn.