I looked up the word ‘languid’ today and I remembered that I had looked it up before. But because I don’t really have an opportunity, especially nowadays, to use words in sentences that I just looked up in conversation with people I know, it’s hard for me to lock down the definition and usage of the word. I guess you could kind of say I am languidly learning the definition of languid? I don’t know. It just makes me think of you, Dad. You once told me to look up every single word I don’t know the meaning of in the dictionary. I’ve noticed myself able to do that, but the words don’t stick because I don’t get to use them so I end up with my nose in the dictionary again, looking up words I’ve looked up before. Does this ever happen to anyone else? How do I truly learn a new word? It feels like everyone else just magically has words up their sleeve while I’m stuck here furtively pulling out my pocket dictionary like a word magician or something. Le sigh. Dad I miss you. There aren’t enough words in the English language for me to pull out the right one from the dictionary to describe how I miss you and how often and when.
It’s been 1.5 years since Dad passed and lately all I can think about is what he looked like right after he passed. I play the images over and over in my mind from the day at the hospice and the day at our private viewing and remember how cold he felt when my lips touched his forehead to kiss him “good-bye.” My mind keeps blocking out images of my mother weeping next to me at the hospice and the funeral home because selfishly, I don’t want to cry uncontrollably while I’m doing the dishes, or working from home, or trying to fall asleep, or looking out the window, or taking a shower, or reading a book, or driving to the grocery store. 1.5 years and it still feels like it just happened. You just want to be able to talk to him again. To hear him laugh again. To see him find another way to tease Mom again. To watch him hit another golf ball into the pond again. To hear him say, “Time’s up! Time’s up! Time’s up!” when you’re taking too long to get ready for work in the morning. To watch an NBA game on TV with him again. 1.5 years and all I can do is finally shed some real tears when I get to the part in my J.K. Rowling book where Harry Potter loses his godfather Sirius Black. Harry Potter, I feel you. I was too young and naïve when I read it the first time. I really get it now.
When I got back from the Dominican Republic, all I wanted to do was escape again. Overwhelmed was putting it lightly. My brain was back to reality, but reality hadn’t set in. I was spacey, tired, sad, sleepy, confused, empty, guilty, giddy, happy, and nervous all rolled into one. My head hurt a little, but my brain couldn’t comprehend that pain. It was too distracted. Everyone wanted to know what I did there, how was it?, and no, beyond the bug bites and sunburn! Beach, a couple excursions, I said to some. I left out the buffets and unlimited drinks to some others. All I wanted to do was find out how the Orchestra was doing since he went. Am I allowed to feel giddy and happy in the midst of him being gone? I didn’t know then and I still don’t know now.
There is a tribute for him in his old chair, complete with his trumpet and a picture of him smiling with his dog. It is not the same without him physically present and I want to cry when I see it, only no tears slide down. I see my stand partner tearing up and all I can do is touch her arm lightly. I should hug her, I should say something wise, but I have nothing to offer except for that light touch. I am thinking of the last words I said to him and how I’m still in shock. “Thank you” seems not enough to express my gratitude for his presence, but I’m glad I got the chance to say it. Even one last time, unknowingly.
How unfair life really is, this short living, breathing beast that we must face every single day and yet never know how much longer we have left. It didn’t happen. He’s going to be back when it’s Orchestra time, not band only. It’s just going to be band only for a while. Orchestra welcomes me back, especially the string section, but I just feel guilty I went away to the Caribbean, where the sun and personal heartbreak is eight times stronger than anywhere else, while everyone else was left here to mourn, here to pray, here to have to come up with things to say to his parents, here to visit, and here to suffer in silence together.
Tonight I want to weep in the shower, except all that comes out is an inscrutable sound, like the start of a wail that was cut short by pure grief that wanted to hide. He’s gone and I didn’t say good-bye. I prayed, but I was too cowardly to really say good-bye. I have already gone through too much and I can’t go through another one. My brain is twisted. I am happy for the progression of my personal life, even though I’m afraid to really talk about it. This feeling mixed with loss is a confusing mess of emotions, an amalgam of fears I can’t chase away no matter how hard I go to work.