We walked into the hotel lobby last night to find it all decked out in its Christmas finery. As we walked past the brightly-lit tree on our way to the elevator, I felt something I’ve not felt in I don’t know how long – Christmas spirit. It’s been twelve years since my daddy died – his side of the family is bad to die during the holidays, and that’s why what little decorating I do now, I do it outside so I can see it, but only from afar.
This past year, I’ve allowed myself to grieve for Daddy and others, to grieve things that I cannot attach a noun to. Instead of trying to outrun the grief, instead of brushing it aside or turning away from it, I sat with it. I went to bed with it. To paraphrase Naomi Shihab Nye, I spoke to it till my voice caught the threads and I could see how big the cloth is. I’m not done yet, and I miss him now just as much today as I have every day of every year since.
That’s me there in Daddy’s arms – I’m the one wriggling my way out of his lap.
Oh what I wouldn’t give for a do-over right about now.
I talk to him, you know. Write him letters, cry on his shoulder, try my best to remember the way it felt to have his arms wrapped around me. Sometimes he would hug me so hard, he’d bite his lower lip from the effort. With Daddy’s arms around me, I could be both vulnerable and invincible, knowing I was loved and protected and supported. I like to think he still does that – still loves me, protects me, supports me, though I try not to pester him with requests for assistance too much because it’s clear from the dreams I’ve had that he is quite content in his new life.
I know you pretty much read only train magazines, Daddy, but if you happen to look over my shoulder and catch my blog, know this: you still own real estate on my heart. And that hole in my heart? It’s packed with stories and smiles and love like you wouldn’t believe.